Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1421: The Power of acting in faith

  It was the seventh and last day of the seven-day Jericho March. For some of us, the day would not end until 2 a.m. or later. For a few, it meant time in jail. We were marching in faith around the modern day Jericho Walls in Montgomery, Alabama.

  During the previous six days, Jericho leaders marched around the Alabama State Capitol once each day. However, the seventh day called for marching around the Capitol seven times. This requirement changed things greatly, but something else happened that changed things even more. We were marching and moving in faith.

  In my remarks to the gathering, I explained the significance of the Jericho March some 3,500 years ago. I explained that the walls around the City of Jericho were obstacles to the Children of Israel securing the Promised Land. In the face of great challenge they acted on faith and the walls came tumbling down. We were acting in faith so that the modern day Jericho Walls will come tumbling down. We were marching and moving in faith.

  I explained that the number seven is a Biblically symbolic number that denotes completion. God created the universe in seven days. Joshua and his army marched around the walls for seven days. On the seventh day, they marched seven times around the Walls of Jericho. We were marching on the seventh day in that same faith. It was very hot. The sun was bearing down. We were tired. We still marched in faith seven times. But some risked jail and more in exercising their faith.

  The Jericho March was scheduled from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday. Around 4:30 p.m., nine leaders silently slipped away from the Jericho March. They entered the Alabama State Capitol. They said the Capitol was the people’s house, not the politicians’ house, so they would not leave for 24 hours. They were entering and moving in faith.

  Among the nine were three ministers of the Gospel; two lawyers; four who were 65 years or over; four women; five men; three Whites; five African Americans; one of Jewish descent; and one 21 year old student. It was a cross-section of Alabamians entering and sitting and moving in faith inside the Capitol.

  Those on the outside of the State Capitol supported those on the inside. We lined up on the doorsteps of the Capitol. We spoke and sang and prayed in faith for those on the inside. Rev. Lawton Higgs, a White minister from Birmingham, spoke to the media in faith. The leaders on the inside were sitting and praying and moving in faith. Those on the outside were standing in support but moving in faith.

  The nine on the inside were asked to leave. Two left because they had not prepared to be arrested. But they left in faith. Seven remained in faith. (Maybe it was meant to be seven, a number with Biblical significance.) The Faithful Seven refused to leave for twenty four hours. They said that people were dying from the failure of the governor to expand Medicaid. Some six to seven hundred die every year. That’s nearly two per day, twelve per week. The Faithful Seven were sitting but moving in faith because the situation is literally one of life and death.

  The Faithful Seven, in alphabetical order are: Annie Pearl Avery of Selma; Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan; Rev. Fred Hammond of Tuscaloosa; Alecha Irby of Selma; Gus Townes of Montgomery; Faya Rose Toure’ of Selma; and John Zippert of Greene County. When they were asked to leave, they could not and would not because people are dying. Life and death is a moral issue. They were sitting and praying but moving in faith.

  Those on the outside were told by law enforcement personnel that they would bring the Faithful Seven out of the rear of the Capitol on Union Street. We waited and waited and waited. They kept telling us the Seven were still inside. They were not. It was all a diversion. Law enforcement had handcuffed and taken them through the tunnel under the Capitol, out through the Alabama State House where the legislature meets and on to the Montgomery County Jail. Even underground, in hand shackles, and in jail, they were acting in faith and moving in faith.

  It was a challenge to bail the Faithful Seven out of jail. Two Montgomery legislators, Representative Thad McClammy and Representative John Knight, came down to the jail and helped. The Seven were charged with trespassing in the second degree with bail set at $500 each. We had to come up with $3,500 cash. Some good people helped to raise the bail money. They were moving in faith.

  The Seven were arrested around five that evening. They finally got out of jail about 1 a.m. We made it home around 2 a.m., some even later. Trial is set for September 15 at 8 a.m. We are still moving in faith. We invite you to move in faith with us.

EPILOGUE – Some will laugh at our faith.  Others will not laugh, but they will doubt the power of our faith. But those who had to overcome great odds time and time again in life will understand and appreciate the power of our faith.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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