The Words of the Jenkins Family after 2008
On September 21, 2010, the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) held a prayer breakfast in Chicago, which included a proclamation of the "Day of Reverence and Respect for All Faiths and their Holy Books." This proclamation first had been urged by Archbishop George A. Stallings in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10, 2010.
The prayer breakfast was held at the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Morgan Park, with the renowned Apostle William A. Ellis, the general prelate and overseer of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in the Midwest.
An unusual element at this gathering of Christian clergy was the public welcoming of two Muslim leaders: Imam Ephraim Bahir Abdullah, of the Bihar Muslim Community Center, and Minister Thomas Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam.
Rev. Michael Jenkins, chairman of the ACLC, recounted experiences of walking with Rev. A.I. Dunlap of Mt. Olive AME Church, into the Blackstone Rangers' gang headquarters in Chicago. "When we walk with love," said Rev. Jenkins, "we give forth energy that makes it clear that we are not there to do anyone harm, but literally to bring the love of Jesus. The Blackstone Rangers knew Rev. Dunlap as a man of his word. Therefore, no harm came to us because we were there not for ourselves but to do God's will and to help people."
Rev. Jenkins continued: "When Rev. Leroy Elliott and I, along with 30 other ministers, went into the Gaza Strip to meet our Muslim brothers and sisters, we were also cautioned that we should be afraid and that we might never make it back. However, when you go with the love of Jesus, we draw out, from even the most difficult community, people who are prepared by God to meet the Lord.
"It's in that spirit that we have found that our Muslim brothers and sisters, who are true to their scriptures, know Jesus and know the love of the Lord. They are not to be feared or condemned, but are to be embraced and joined with to improve our families, our communities and our society by bringing unity of God's people. Only faith leaders can lead our communities out of the darkness of family breakdown and despair," Rev. Jenkins said.
"It has been found that only people with an internal transforming experience through an encounter with God can shed the old skin of bad habits and things that are not of the Lord. Rev. Elliott and I went into the Gaza Strip and met our Muslim brothers and sisters and found genuine religious leaders who are actually working to lead the young people away from extreme views of violence and hate, to lead them into the understanding of the Holy Scriptures that people of the Book must be loved and respected," Rev. Jenkins added.
Rev. Jenkins called up Imam Ephraim Bahir Abdullah, of the Bihar Muslim Community Center, and Minister Thomas Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, and read the ACLC call for a Day of Reverence and Respect for all Faiths and all Holy Books. Then Rev. Jenkins called upon Rev. Elliott of New Greater St. John Baptist Church, a nationally known evangelist of the Baptist Convention, to come forward. In support of our Muslim brothers, Rev. Elliott testified that we are all from one God.
Rev. Jenkins asked Rev. Elliott to read a verse from the Koran: Surah 5, verses 82-85. Then the ACLC ministers, represented by Evangelist Rita Pritchett, Evangelist Weston, and Dr. Paul Swanson, joined Rev. Elliott and Rev. Jenkins in praying for Muslim brothers and sisters.
Mrs. Weston offered a beautiful prayer, including these words: "In the name of Jesus we proclaim love for our brothers and sisters, for our family. We pray that enmity and hate can be dissolved, and that we can all be one. We pray on this day we can express love and affirmation of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and that we will make every effort to become one family."
With this, Imam Abdullah was shedding tears. He told the group, "I've been coming to ACLC for quite some time, but today has moved me more deeply than you can imagine. I feel the spirit of God here, and sincerely want to thank you all for expressing God's love and affirmation for all of us." It was a profound moment.
Minister Thomas Muhammad then took the microphone and said, "On behalf of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, we have had a long and beautiful history with Father Moon and the ACLC. I want to thank Pastor Barrett, Rev. Elliott, Rev. Jenkins and all the ministers that are gathered, for indeed there is no division among true believers that are living according to the Scriptures. We are grateful for this expression of love and understanding for our Muslim community. With this kind of love and understanding we can end the conflict and bring about a peaceful world."
Bishop Booker Person of the ACLC next shared how he has been blessed by this fellowship, and was delighted by the gathering, stating "I am a preacher who "sings." Not a singer who "preaches."
"I have been blessed by ACLC, and evidence of that is the fact that my 10-year-old daughter just won the Gospel Soloist Global gold medal. We were in a Communist country praising God and seeing God's blessings flow. My daughter Brook brought home the gold for ACLC."
Pastor T.L. Barrett gave the keynote address after this tearful ceremony. His text was taken from John, 11:25, one of the shortest texts in the Bible, which says, "Jesus wept." He shared, "The spirit that has come here today is filled with love and tears. It's a beautiful spirit. It's appropriate that I talk today about why Jesus wept."
As a master of delivering the Word of God, Pastor Barrett lifted our hearts with great joy as he said, "Many have thought that Jesus wept because he was sorry when he heard Lazarus had died." But he explained, "That isn't really why Jesus wept. If you go back earlier in the text, Martha came running to Jesus and said to him, 'Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would still be alive.' And Jesus said to her, 'He will rise.' She said, 'I know everyone will rise in the resurrection,' but Jesus said, 'No, he's going to rise up from the dead.'
"When Mary met Jesus, she had a similar heart and feeling. She said, 'If you had been here, Lord, my brother would still be alive,' and she was weeping when she approached Jesus, and thus all the Jews around her in Bethany started to weep. And Jesus groaned as he heard their lamentation. He heard the suffering of the people, and with that heart Jesus wept.
"He hadn't even seen Lazarus but he already knew that God had heard his prayer that Lazarus would live. Therefore, he didn't visit Lazarus, didn't tell him to stand up. He told him, 'Come out of there,' and Lazarus was alive.
"The foundation of our revival and the saving of our community come when we can weep together with the mothers and our brothers and sisters for the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Likewise, when we as Christians weep for our Muslim family, when we weep as brothers and sisters for our Jewish family and for our Christian family, for the mothers that have lost sons and daughters to wars and tragedies, when we groan inwardly and can weep because we feel the heart of God to save humanity, with that kind of weeping we can call the community to resurrect and come back to life." The 200 ministers then came together and all said, "Amen."
The breakfast ended with a tearful tribute to the late Rev. Joseph McAfee, one of our finest ACLC clergy who passed in September from a long illness. Mrs. McAfee was given a special plaque in honor of her husband's life-long achievement, running for Mayor of Chicago, as well as standing with Father Moon with unwavering conviction.
Some of the biggest Christian names in Chicago attended this breakfast, and they knew Pastor Barrett was going to bring the heart of God. Whenever you come to an ACLC event, you will be fed with the truth and love of God to a degree that your own preaching will catch on fire. The Chicago ACLC is on fire for the Lord and the nation. Let us weep together for the suffering of our people and bring the unity of all of God's children as we have learned to respect all faiths and all holy books, calling for the end of hatred.
Contributed by Rev. Michael Jenkins, Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference