Martin Luther King Jr.was assassinated on April 4, 1968. It is a half-century since this iconic man was felled by a bullet fired by a depraved man. Time really flies! King is remembered for the contributions he made towards bridging the chasm that separated races in the United States. The tremendous achievements he made cannot be erased from the books of history.
When growing up, I had a difficult time differentiating between King and another Martin Luther – the reformer – who refused to live under legalistic religious practices that did not have any Scriptural bedrock.
The two men who share names are giants in their own rights. They both spent their lives fighting for justice and equality in the eyes of the Creator and their fellow humans. The question of both men being highly gifted is in no doubt.
Billy Graham is one of the few preachers who did not shy away from associating with Martin Luther King Jr. In 1957, Graham invited Luther to pray in his crusade and preach in one of his ministry retreats. King’s message of Love for God and Love for neighbours resonated and still does with every human being who aspires for a just and moral society.
One of the common catchwords from his speeches is, ‘I have a dream.’ King had a dream, and he pursued this dream with tenacity, focus and faith. Instead of wavering in webs set up by weirdos, King wove wefts and warps of the equality and justice fabric.
Martin Luther, the Reformer, had a dream too. His dream was to help the church retrace its steps back to the scriptures.
Billy Graham had a dream, and he stated it categorically in his preaching, “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”
Jewish traditions recognize Nehemiah as the principal author of the Biblical book of the same name. Nehemiah had a dream. He wanted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that were in a wreck. He pursued this course with enthusiasm and steadfastness to the end.
There is one attention-grabbing fact about men and women who have had dreams and accomplished them. Firstly, they were so alert that they identified what was ailing the church or society of their time. Secondly, they realized that the identified disorder was not consonant with the will of God. Thirdly, they dreamed of eliminating the disorder. Fourthly, they abandoned their comfort zones and started on a perilous and taxing journey of achieving the dream. Fifthly, they refused to quit and fought to the end. Sixthly, and the most important of them, they sought God at every turn of the journey; from the beginning to the end.
I can think of Nehemiah leaving an esteemed position in the King’s palace to go and engage in hard labour. He was going to a place that was politically unimportant, and there he would face threats to his life and opposition from foes. He had to overcome internal and external mayhem.
One of the striking features of the Book of Nehemiah is the abundance of prayers. Prayer was not just cup and tea to Nehemiah but the mainstay that his dream solely depended on. In humility, he led a people to accomplish a great task.
It is incredible that God can use one person to change the course of history.