On Friday, June 7th, Mrs. Connie Matthews Harshaw, President of the Let Freedom Ring Foundation sat down with Stephen Seals of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Barbara Ham Lee of WHRO-FM for a conversational history lesson on the Historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg and the Let Freedom Ring Bell.
The Historic First Baptist Church, established in 1776, was created by free and enslaved Blacks. The church is formally recognized as one of America's oldest continuous African American congregations. It is home to the "Let Freedom Ring" bell, which was silenced during segregation and the Civil Rights movement, yet it rings again today. The Freedom Bell also made modern history on September 24, 2016 when former President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Ms. Ruth Odom Bonner rang the bell at the opening ceremony for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C.
Thank you to Mrs. Connie Matthews Harshaw for all that you do to tell the story and help others understand that Our History is American History.
Fear Reversal 101: Shifting Focus
“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all of my fears.” Psalm 34:4
Fear is defined as the anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur. This can be very crippling. Fear causes doubt and can limit faith; fear is what I like to call a faith eater and reducer. In this day and age there is a lot to fearand worry, especially as a college student. You worry about grades, your bank account, and your future, but all of this worry and fear can lead to a spiritual dam. All of the fear mixed with worry lessens the flow of your faith. This can have some major implications, for starters you are open to more ploys of the enemy, you are limiting yourself, and what God can do through you.
Faith is the confidence or trust in a person or thing. Faith can increase hope which has the power to drive out all of the fear that lives within you. Faith has the power to break down the walls that fear has built. This is why it is important to build faith, although it will not prevent fear it can help you deal with it. 1 John 5:4 in the New Living Translation Bible says this, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” This is the reason why the enemy will attack your faith, for without faith you cannot win the fight to overcome evil. Building faith does not happen overnight, it is something that happens over time and takes vigorous training. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”—1 Corinthians 9:25; New International Version. It takes patience, determination, and dedication to build faith and it will not be easy. There are several ways to build your faith and I would like to focus on three, praying, studying, and trials.
Praying—“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”—Matthew 7:7; New International Version. Praying is how we communicate with God. It is here where we discuss our lives, ask for forgiveness and guidance, and where we intercede on the behalf of the sick, imprisoned, the less fortunate, and the nonbeliever. It is here where we can tell God our desire to build our faith and ask for patience to get us through the building process.
Studying—“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”—James 1:25; English Standard Version. The Bible is your Spiritual textbook, and we have to study it in order to pass your spiritual tests. As college students we know all about hard tests, but unlike tests at school, spiritual tests are harder and can have more consequences than just a lower GPA. Satan is known to quote scripture, but with his quoting there is manipulation as seen when he tried Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) and with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5). This is why it is important to study the word of God, 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”—New King James Version.
Trials—“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.”—James 1:2-4; New King James Version. Trials are important to the faith building process, which is probably the hardest pill to swallow. Most people do not like to go through trials, but it is necessary, experience is necessary. I mentioned earlier that building faith is a process, and this is why. I know that trials and tests do not sound fun, but it is important to remember who has our backs (Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:31; 54:17, Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 34:19; 91:7, 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9). So even though we must go through trials, we will get through them if we continually pray and study.
This Youth Bible study is meant to help you transform the negative emotion of fear into a positive energy enhancing Faith and a persevering Spirit of Hope. It is meant to help you with the three steps for building your faith listed above. What I would like you to do is write down all of your fears, no matter how small or seemingly ridiculous. Every two weeks I would like you to look at your list of fears and pick one to focus on. Feel free to write down how this fear makes you feel, if it snowballs into another fear, go to the Bible, if you don’t have one go online. Look up how that fear makes you feel and see what the Bible says about it and write it down. Then begin to meditate on the positive things that you have written down. I would also like you to pray about it, Ask God to help you recognize when you start to head down that road of negativity. Ask him to help you remember the positive things associated with you. If you feel stuck, pray about it and try to connect with someone or a church (You are welcome here at FBC ;-) that can lead you to a clearer understanding. Finally, I would like to leave you with this, “For God hath not given us the spirit off fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.”—2 Timothy 1:7; King James Version. Let’s rid ourselves of this spirit of fear and reclaim our power, our love, and our sound mind!
Join us weekly for Bible Study on Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m.