There have been several times in my life when I felt as if God was affirming what I was doing and ultimately, affirming my faith. One late afternoon in college as I stood in line at the main Detroit Public Library, waiting to check out a book, an absolutely beautiful library worker stood up behind the counter, walked around the counter and planted a Lucius kiss on my cheek. It was the right kiss at the right time from the right person. I did not know the woman. All I knew was that out of all the people in line before and behind me, she gave me an undeserved kiss. She was drop dead beautiful, and for some unknown reason she kissed me!
I found out later that she was the older sister to a junior high school youth who participated in a youth ministry I led at my church. Some months earlier, in the basement of our church, a fight had broken out during a youth ministry party. As the youth advisor, I felt it was my responsibility to break up the fight. The fight was between kids who attended my youth ministry and some boys who lived nearby in the Brewster Douglas Public Housing Apartments. The situation was complicated because several youths in my youth ministry also lived in the Brewster Douglas. At one point in the fight, the younger brother of the library attendant was wrestled to the ground. He was a good size for his age and strong. I made a tactical error. I did not stop the fight when it first started. I wanted to let my guy get a couple of punches in before I stopped the fight.
When he was wrestled to the floor, the other kids made a circle around him. I stood on the outside of the circle. At the back of the circle I saw a knife pass from one hand to another. I realized that I had waited too long. I pushed my way through the crowd of junior high school boys, I was 19 and in my last year of college. I rushed to where the stranger was on top of the brother of the library attendant, separated the two boys, and as I picked my guy up off the floor I asked him if he was ok. He said something to let me know he was alright. We got everyone separated. There were a lot of bottles and chairs thrown at me, but eventually the melee ended and everyone went home. I went to the hospital with a gash on my head. To this day I have a scar on my scalp and a thin spot in my hair line because of that ruckus in the basement of the church. So, months later, I think I earned a kiss on the cheek. Or, maybe she kissed me because she thought I was cute. Or maybe it was just the spring of the year. Who knows? All I know is that when she kissed me for no apparent reason, I felt like I was receiving an affirmation from God for something I was doing right in my life. I was not sure what it was, but I believed that her kiss was a sign from God.
From time to time, each of us is bolstered by the affirmation of God. This past Sunday I felt like I received an affirmation from God. Many months earlier I had arranged to preach at the St Albans Congregational United Church of Christ in Queens, NY. My intention was to preach and autograph copies of my book of prayers and personal photographs entitled, “The Test the Strength the Endurance and the Way Out.” Weeks after I had committed to be in St. Albans, my father died. The book was doing well and I was in the midst of a national tour, preaching in the pulpit of churches around the country, selling and autographing books. To be honest, I have received wonderful receptions at every church I have preached, but something was different at St. Albans. The people were very warm and friendly, but I sold more books there than any of the other churches. Additionally, the church provided me with lodging and a substantial honorarium. Honorariums and book sales are put into a new non-profit I created called, “Nicholas Hood III Ministries.” The non-profit is supporting missions around the world and right here in America as well. I have never been to that church, but the pastor, Rev. Dr. Henry Simmons have been friends for over 40 years. Gail, his wife is also a friend. In my first election to the Detroit City Council, Gail carried and passed out literature for me. She is an exceptional “Pastor’s Wife.” Clinton Griffin, the chairman of my Deacon Board in Detroit, helped me drive to New York. He has a daughter, Mackenzie, who just relocated to Brooklyn, NY., and my trip gave him an opportunity to spend some time with her. My experience was so warm and invigorating that I feel as though I was experiencing an affirmation from God.
As I think about it, every church I have preached in on this tour has been an affirmation from God. Each host-pastor minister has been extraordinarily friendly – so friendly that I told Rev. Simmons in New York that I privately refer to this book tour as a “Friendship Tour.” My first stop on the tour was last fall in Atlanta, GA at the First Congregational Church where the Rev. Dr. Dwight Andrews is the pastor. I drove my car to Atlanta, with the help of two of my members, Atty. Taylor Segue and Leonard Davis, but Rev. Andrews and his wife, Desiree allowed me to stay at their home. My wife, Denise joined me in Atlanta and insisted on helping me to drive back to Detroit. I told her I was a “Big Boy”, but she drove with me anyway. Dwight and I have been friends since we were 10 years old. After Atlanta, I drove to Daytona Beach, Fl where I stayed in the home of Maria and Rev. John Long. John pastor’s the Tubman-King Community Church. I spoke at a Bible study at their church. I ordained John into the ministry and performed their marriage. When Maria’s daughter, Nicole, was in the 11th grade, she lived with me and Denise and finished high school in Detroit. Leaving Daytona, I drove to Miami, Fl., where I preached at the Church of the Open Door. Rev. Dr. Joaquim Willis is the pastor. Joaquim and I met as youth leaders, he in Washington, DC and I in Detroit. We have been friends and colleagues ever since. His church was warm, gracious and quite friendly. I sold a lot of books at the church and they provided me with a generous honorarium. In February, I did a preaching and book tour in the Bay Area of California. It started at the 1st Congregational Church of Berkeley, where my son, Nathan and daughter in law, Sharla, and granddaughter, Maleah, are members. Again, I sold several books and received an honorarium. During that same tour, I gave a book talk at the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, where Karen and Catherine Routt, from my church in Detroit are now members. The last stop for me in California was at the City of Refuge UCC, in Oakland. The pastor of that church is Bishop Yvette Flunder, who also was quite gracious and provided me with an honorarium. I mention all of this because I offered to come to each church without any expectation of compensation. I was really looking for was an opportunity to promote my book. To my surprise, each of the churches not only allowed me to sell the book, but helped in some way with my expenses. Additionally, each church continued to sell my book after my departure. The thing that really has been impressed upon me is the depth of friendship and the relationships we can build over the course of a life time. That is why I call this the “Friendship Tour.”
More than friendship, this tour has reminded me of the affirmation of God. I believe that God affirms each of us, several times a day in very unique ways. The affirmation of God is there is encourage us, strengthen us and bless us. What I experienced last Sunday was a continuation of the affirmation of God in my life. I thank God for every affirmation, because in its own way, each affirmation of my ministry, my faith, my love for God, makes me stronger, wiser, more confident that the Lord will never leave or forsake me.
2 Timothy 4: 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
Questions for Reflection:
- When have you experienced the “Affirmation of God” in your life?
- When has God affirmed you, but you did not recognize it?
Lord, I thank you today for every affirmation of faith. I thank you for every sign. I thank you for every encouraging and kind word. I thank you for the miracles. I thank you for the battles you have fought and the protection you have provided. Show me this day how to build upon this faith. Teach me to live life with this greatest sense of commitment and faith in you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Clinton Griffin – “Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III autographing books at the St. Albans Congregational United Church of Christ, Queens, NY
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
Learn more about the ministry and publications of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Ti 4:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.