Community Voices

Prayers won’t bring back loved ones, but they can help soothe the loss

Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week after almost a year and a half in captivity, died Monday, June 19, his family said.
Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016, speaks during a news conference at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati. Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma last week after almost a year and a half in captivity, died Monday, June 19, his family said. AP

This week, we heard about the young sailors who died when the U.S. Navy’s USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship off Japan. What a tragedy. Each sailor’s face told a story — of the family they left behind, and of their willingness to serve their country. Some followed in their fathers’ footsteps to join the Navy, and one, at 37, was just shy of retirement.

As I read the short profiles of each young sailor, I thought of seeing their families on television, their anguish over their losses. I wanted to reach out and comfort each of the mourners. Since that wasn’t possible, I did the best I could: I prayed that God would comfort them and soothe their broken hearts. I said the same prayer for the parents of Otto Warmbier, who came home from a North Korean jail in a coma. He died Monday never knowing he was back home in the loving arms of his family.

Bea Hines (2).JPG
Bea L. Hines

And while I was praying, there came news of another terrorist attack and another life lost. Something more to pray about.

It is at times like these that I am so thankful to have a prayer life. As long as we live on this planet, we know that bad things will happen, often to good people. And while we may not understand the whys of it all, if you have a connection with God, you will trust Him to know that you can always to go Him for guidance and consolation.

I realize that praying for the young sailors won’t bring them back. But praying for their hurting families can bring them comfort to get through their pain. I speak as a woman who has lived through the loss of a son. In praying for the victims’ families, hopefully they will learn — as I had to learn — to thank the Lord for the time they had with their loved ones.

I was so touched when I saw Warmbier’s father, Fred, on television, wearing his son’s jacket and expressing the love and pride he has for his son. It was a heart-sickening moment.

In times like these, mere words seem useless. And you look for another source to help you through. This is how I am going through. I say “going” through because you never forget your loved one, and the pain will always be there. But as you keep on living and trusting the Lord, you get through and often become stronger because you looked to the Higher Power to carry you.

As I write this, I realize that the families of these victims might never read these words, or know that I am one of the millions of people praying for them, asking God to wrap His loving arms around them as they go through some of the darkest days of their lives.

Yet, because of my faith, I know that prayer can go where I can’t physically go, and that somehow, God will comfort them because people like me, and some of you, are praying for them.

Miami Oratorio Society concert

Music lovers will be happy to know that the Miami Oratorio Society will present a concert at 5 p.m. Sunday at Sierra Norwood Calvary Baptist Church, 495 NW 191st St.

Directed by Andrew Anderson, the choir will perform the classic story of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, and his challenge to the wicked king Ahab as told through the music of Felix Mendelssohn in the oratorio “Elijah.” It is a classic story of the battle of good and evil.

The Miami Oratorio will be joined by soloists soprano Joanne Martinez; mezzo-soprano Emelia Acon; tenor Lievens Costillo; and bass Gibson Dorce. Bass Daniel Snodgrass will perform as the prophet Elijah. The choir will be accompanied by Karl Van Richard.

The Miami Oratorio Society was founded in 1974 by Victor Kelly, in an effort to bring cultural and spiritual fulfillment to the community through classical and spiritual music.

As a former member of the group, which is made up of singers from throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties, I have sung “Elijah” and can tell you what a spiritual and dramatic experience it was for me.

The musical group has performed in the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and New York.

If you go, tickets are $20 each for adults and $10 each for youth ages 10-17, and may be purchased online at www.miamioratorio.org, or by calling 954-882-2242.

Community Pillar awards, scholarships

A warm Neighbors in religion salute to the 2017 “Community Pillars” and scholarship recipients. The awards and scholarships were presented at a brunch reception and silent auction on June 17 at the Biscayne Bay Marriott in downtown Miami.

According to a news release from the Black Affairs Advisory Board’s Heritage Planning Committee, which hosted the event, the honorees were selected “for their support of programs or businesses which positively impact the community and have a deep commitment to public service.”

The 2017 community Pillars are:

▪ Glenda Harris, daughter of the late Rev. Edward T. Graham, who accepted the Legacy Award for her family;

▪ Akua Scott, Advocate;

▪ Tangela Sears, Social Justice Advocate;

▪ SBC Community Development Corp., Community Empowerment Advocate;

▪ Pierre Saliba, Cultural Advocate;

▪ Ronda Vangates, Business Advocate;

▪ Julia Brown, Media Advocate;

▪ Miami-Dade Police Assistant Director Stephanie Daniels, Public Service Advocate;

▪ Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon, Dual Legacy Award.

The Young Pillars Scholarship recipients and their chosen academic institutions are Dequan Sands, Florida A&M University; Darius Wright, Wooster; Abdias Armenteros, Julliard; Travis Johnson, Florida Southwestern State College; Julius Brown, Bethune Cookman University; Keanna Nembhard, University of Florida; Cornelius White, Stetson University; and Druscilla Daley, University of South Florida.

‘Let Go and Let God’

The community is invited to The Universal Truth Center for Better Living at 9:45 a.m. Sunday to hear Senior Pastor the Rev. Charles Taylor teach the lesson “Let Go and Let God,” which is a part of the lesson series “Healing Unleashed.” The lesson/sermon is designed to guide parishioners on how to “show up, do their best and let God do the rest.”

On June 30, the center’s Adult Education Department’s UTC Steppers invites everyone to come out and bring their dancing shoes and be a part of the semi-annual Evening Dance fundraising event.

The time is from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and the event will be in the Community Room. Attendees are asked to wear white tops and blue jeans. The evening will include line dancing, refreshments, prizes, and dance demonstrations. Tickets are $15 each. All proceeds will be donated to the church’s Adult Ministry.

The Universal Truth Center is at 21310 NW 37th Ave., Miami Gardens.

65 years of preaching

Warm congratulations to Elder Thomas P. Edwards, the assistant pastor of The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness) at 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City, on the occasion of his 65th preaching anniversary.

Edwards, who will be honored during a special service at 10 a.m. Sunday, will also celebrate 67 years of wedded bliss with his wife, Missionary Maxine Bullard Edwards.

The couple lives in the Bunche Park area of Miami Gardens and are the parents of four adult children — Tommy, Linda Edwards Glover of Atlanta, Phillip and Kenneth — and are the grandparents and great-grandparents of many.

Both Edwards and his wife are members of pioneer Miami families.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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