Dr. Ozzie Smith on "Standing in the Tragic Gap"

Amen Dr. Haythorn! It has been said that extreme wealth and extreme poverty negate community. In other words, wealth can purchase "gated" and rareified distance from poverty such that neither has to or can behold the other. It is no wonder that a former president claimed not to know that poverty existed! While wealth can purchase islands, poverty can place us on them--all by ourselves. We have seen what happens when the haves want more--our current state of the economy and shuttering of businesses, homes, and lives. This message challenges us to bring polar opposites together in community, not to curry favor or beg the rich to save the church. It seems paradoxical that we would depend on anyone other than God in lean or prosperous times.

The businessman made a leap of faith in tough times in order to stand in the tragic gap. As I read that story, I too could not believe its outcome given the history of this country on race. I am encouraged afresh that nothing is too hard for God! It is a blessing to know that somebody had enough faith to believe such a thing possible against such odds. I believe the content of character was indeed forged in that workplace! Thanks, Dr. Haythorn, for such an inspiring message in less than inspiring times. This helps us to remember that God does God's best work when trembling feet dare to stand on the Edmond Pettis bridges of ugly times. Gaps can be frightening, but God is faithful!!!!!!!!! Thanks Day1 for the lift!

--Ozzie Smith


UPDATE: From the Rev. Dr. Billy Cox:

My first assignment out of seminary, was to organize a new Methodist congregation and direct its building program. Looking back, it was an awesome task for a young, inexperienced preacher and his family in their mid twenties. Yet, by the grace of God and the encouragement of family and friends, we got er done.

While many members of that young church excelled in their commitment and leadership, one person in particular was instrumental in making the dream of an all new congregation and church possible.

This man happened to be very wealthy. It was not always so. He grew up very poor, had very little formal education, yet, he knew the value of dreaming dreams and doing hard manual labor. Eventually, he founded a manufacturing company. He became very successful and very rich, even building new plants in other cities and other states.

Because of this one person's influence and contacts in raising money, our beginning church, which after all these years, is now a flourishing and greatly enlarged congregation with beautiful and expanded facilities.

Perhaps the most significant characteristic of our church's benefactor, was his unique ability to "stand in the gap". He never forget from whence he came. He kept the common touch. He could take his seat and handle himself with ease among the community tycoons at their stilted board meetings and or walk as a man among men with his laborers on the assembly line.

Like the Epistle of James admonished, Pete made no distinction between the haves and the have-nots. Thus, he helped to make a distinct difference in the lives of all of the persons whom he happened to meet and touch. They never forgot.

Paraphrasing the words of Kipling, "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue... walk with Kings....nor lose the common touch...you'll become a mature person with great value".

My old friend Pete, stood in the gap and a church was built. Most of us are here today because someone was there, "Standing In The Gap" for us.

Thanks Dr. Haythorn for your inspiring challenge to us all. And thanks again to our friend Peter Wallace, and the staff at Day1 in Atlanta. You continue to stand in the gap for us. We are grateful.

Billy Cox

Louisville, Kentucky