ABOUT THE CHURCH
“Randolph what do you think are you doing? We don’t have enough supplies left to feed us until Christmas. Why are you building a church?”
“They worked for our master all of their lives. Upon his death, he set their bodies free. But freedom is fearful. The chains of fear now bind them. All of their lives they have been cared for, but also all of their lives have been structured by work. Now they have no structure, they have no work, they don’t know who will care for them, and they are afraid. I have just given them work. I have given them structure. I have given them hope. Now they will work for the Lord. Their work will set them free.”
During the day, the Macedonia Ridge Missionary Baptist Church appeared slowly growing out of the ground, pushing heavenly as surely and strongly as the risen Lord. Word spread far and wide that the freed slaves, fearless in the face of the coming Ohio winter, were praising the Lord, devoting all of their time to the construction of a church. It was said that Ed Mason was supplying the lumber and nails. It was further said that Mayor Wallace had promised upon completion to adorn it with the best pews and pulpits of any church in the area. It was even rumored that Randolph, the head Negro, had seen angels at the site. Negroes from Burlington and whites from miles around drove their wagons to the top of Macedonia Ridge. They came with all of their tools. They came with all of the food they could spare. They brought their wives and children. They set up tents and lean-to shelters. Under Beulah’s direction, they all sang the Negro spirituals as they worked together. And when they returned home, they emptied their pockets. The church, when finished, was not only debt free, it had $106.35 in the bank.
Randolph had conceived of the church and had ordered its construction to save his people. But what he did not realize was that others wanted to be saved, too. He had unknowingly created a local shrine, the destination of an area pilgrimage. Negroes, whites, men, women, young, and old wanted to be set free by working for the Lord.
On the day of the dedication of the church, Randolph spoke to the gathering of over five hundred. They were expecting a long sermon filled with many Bible quotes, but his sermon was the shortest of his life. He could see the people assembled in the church, and through the open windows and doors, he could also see the multitude assembled outside. He and the five hundred could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in each of them. When he walked to the pulpit, a hush fell over the crowd and the concentration from those there magnified the Holy Spirit in him five hundred-fold. His walnut skin glistened with a translucent glow. From behind the pulpit, he took a basket and then stepped to the side to show its contents. Inside were five small loaves of bread and two small fishes. The crowd waited expectantly. Then he said simply in a voice that came not from him but through him, with a calm peace that passes understanding, "Go forth and feed God's people."
There was silence as the awesome and mighty power of the Holy Spirit flowed back out of Randolph and into each of the five hundred in full-magnified strength. Some shouted "Praise God." Some cried. Some dropped to their knees and prayed. Then Negro spirituals arose spontaneously throughout the crowd.
That afternoon, many plans were conceived and many promises were made. Not all came to fruition, but enough did so that, as a result of Randolph's six-word sermon, eight other churches were founded in nearby southern Ohio and what was to become West Virginia, and thousands of God's people were fed for years to come.
Thanks to Wikipedia for allowing me to reprint this photo. Please go to the Wikipedia site and find out more about the church.