Monday, April 12, 2010
As I write this, I am once again in North Carolina. This past Saturday (April 10), we had a book launch at Dr. Johnson’s home church. It was a glorious day that began with a book signing at a local bookstore, a lunch of southern barbeque, and then a reception hosted by Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. As the fellowship room began to fill up in the basement of this historic church, I had an overwhelming feeling of coming full circle. The book, MAN FROM MACEDONIA: MY LIFE OF SERVICE, STRUGGLE, FAITH AND HOPE, began in that building in a small classroom four years ago. On March 18, 2006. Aaron Johnson and I sat in that classroom as we began the interview process that would eventually turn into the book.
I really don’t know how many people came on Saturday, but the house was full and books were sold. But the most important thing is that a man who has given his entire life to others was honored for that life as friends, former colleagues and family filed by in front of our table to obtain a signed copy of Aaron’s life chronicles. Hugs, tears, smiles and precious memories filled the hall. I was honored to be a part of this sweet reunion and celebration.
I think it’s safe now to confess a fear I had during the three years it took to write MAN FROM MACEONIA. My friends, Dennis and Debbie Walsh, had flown me into North Carolina. It is this couple who brought us together. The Walshes knew Aaron’s story and they wanted me to tell it. So, that day in March as I walked up the steps of Mount Sinai to meet Dr. Johnson something suddenly dawned on me as I opened the door and was greeted by this tall, distinguished gray-haired African-American man—I wasn’t black! I wasn’t male. How could I, this middle-aged, white woman tell the story of a black man with any authenticity at all?
Well, we forged forward with both us secretly wondering how this was going to work. What I can tell you now, four years later, is that our pairing was a God-thing. He put us together. He made it work. He knew way more than we did what needed to happen.
Of course as the book release date got closer, my old doubts started to resurface. What would the black community think of the book and it’s writer? Would they resent that one of their hero's story wasn’t being told by one of their own? Would the fact that I’m white keep some from buying or reading the book?
Silly me! God handled that as well. Actually, as I watched the members of Mount Sinai Church respond to the book on Saturday and to me and to Aaron, my skin color was as much a non-issue as his. As they embraced their gentle pastor, they embraced me as well.
The book tells a story that is bigger than both of us really. It’s Aaron’s story, but as he says, “It’s everybody’s story, really.” It continues to be a tale about faithfulness…God’s faithfulness to His people... all of his people.
I hope you get a chance to read MAN FROM MACEDONIA soon. It has changed my life and introduced me to an authentic hero. I pray it will do the same for you.