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Column: Be a missionary in your own community
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

On my early bus route, the final stop is to pick up two boys. I then drive down a narrow road to turn the bus around and head for the school.

My only guidance in reverse are two outside mirrors just a few inches wide. When I complete the turnaround, I look out about 8 feet of a gigantic front windshield. The first sight I see, in addition to the road, is a morning sunrise coming up over southeastern Hall County.

In the days leading up to our winter holidays, the sky was a beautiful reddish-orange as the sun began to rise over the lush pine trees.

I’m not going to offer some sad lament of the year that is coming to an end. I’m just going to look at it as a smaller image. Just like when I turn the bus around, I’m not going to invest a lot of time looking back.

A mysterious virus has brought out the best and worst in some people. I’ve seen generosity as people donated money for food and other needs as some people struggled to make ends meet. I’ve seen people who have kicked and cussed our scientific community for their treatment of the virus. And, there are those who cuss public officials for suggesting we wash our hands and wear a mask.

Despite all the negativity, our pharmaceutical community has succeeded in bringing a vaccine to market in about nine months.

Politics, more than ever before has squeezed out the worst in some people. Is there anyone left in the public arena who hasn’t been accused of doing something wrong?

I love going to church and have missed the smiles and warm greetings of people who share my faith. At the same time, I’ve prayed like never before for our country and its people.

As a child, I remember when missionaries would either come in person or send a slideshow to our church to remind us to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which supports our missionaries around the world.

Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon was a missionary to China when the Southern Baptist Convention started allowing single women to go into the mission field. She was a teacher and with her friend, Anna Safford, opened Cartersville Female High School in 1871. It was a time when education for women was limited in Georgia.

Two years later, she would leave Cartersville when the Foreign Mission Board appointed her as a missionary to China. She was fluent in Latin, Greek, French and Italian. She would later become an expert in the Chinese dialects. She wanted to preach but found herself confined to a school of 40 “unstudious” children.

Lottie Moon’s efforts gave way to the Women’s Missionary Union, and the Christmas offering for the denomination still bears her name. She never got the door completely open for women, but her message helped the Gospel of Jesus.

Many within the Southern Baptist Convention have cut back on their support of missions. As many missionaries retired, no one was sent to replace them.

The ease of worldwide travel has encouraged many people nowadays to go and spend a week or two helping in foreign countries. A friend of mine, who is a preacher, said that people would load up on a jet and go halfway around the world. Those same people would also refuse to go across town to minister to people who speak a different language or have a different shade of skin.

I hope the current days of limited travel might give folks a little spark to reach out to neighbors who could use a patch on their roof or a little food in their cupboard.

Now, that would be a nice sight to view from my big front windshield.​

You will get through it. I pray for God’s comfort for you this holiday season.​


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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