All Saint’s Day is coming in just a few days and I have challenged my congregation to tell stories of saints that have impacted their lives or who inspire them. I want to identify several of my spiritual heroes.
My Hero Saints
I’ve always been drawn to stories of courageous people who stand up for what is right no matter what the consequences and of people who do unexpected things that challenge the status quo and even change the course of history. These are a few of my spiritual heroes:
I am inspired by Elijah P. Lovejoy, a Presbyterian who refused to be intimidated by pro-slavery mobs and continued to publish abolitionist materials in Alton, IL—action that ultimately led to his murder in 1837. His murder galvanized the anti-slavery movement in the north.
I am inspired by Mary McLeod Bethune, a Methodist who defied Jim Crow Laws, teaching people how to pass literacy tests and going door to door to collect money to help people pay poll taxes so they could vote. Because of her activities, the Ku Klux Klan threatened to burn down the school she had established for African American girls. She stood her ground.
I am inspired by Trevor Huddleston, the Anglican priest who fought South African apartheid. Without him, it is unlikely that there would have been a Bishop Desmond Tutu. Bishop Tutu first met Huddleston on the street as a nine-year-old boy. It was expected that black children and adults would step into the gutter to allow white people to pass by. Before Desmond and his mother could step off the sidewalk, Huddleston, a white man, stepped into the gutter and tipped his hat to them as they passed. Bishop Tutu identified the experience as the defining moment of his life. He decided at that moment that he wanted to be a “man of God” and an Anglican priest. Of course, Tutu went on to become one of the most outspoken leaders of the anti-apartheid movement.
I am challenged by their courage and determination and I thank God for their refusal to live by the dictates of their cultures, and I aspire to follow in their example. Because of them, the light of Christ shines more brightly than ever.