John Fawcett was a pastor of a small rural congregation. Now he had accepted a call to lead a large urban church. After packing all his belongings, he preached his farewell sermon, expecting to leave shortly. All the members gathered around him and with tears and love begged him to stay. Their pleas prevailed and he agreed to stay. To commemorate his decision, he wrote the beloved hymn, “Blest be the tie that binds/ Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds/ Is like to that above.” That was the sentiment years before when Ruth chose to stick with her mother-in-law Naomi, rather than return to her Moabite people. Naomi had advised her two widowed daughters in law to go back home and find security by marrying young men. Orpah took her advice, but we read Ruth’s reply in chapter 1, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us.” We should not only admire but try emulate such love and commitment.

Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More


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