Several years ago during the unrest of the Civil Rights Movement, many church buildings of blacks were burned. The Mississippi Baptist Convention had a white staff member assigned to work with black churches. One morning, he sat in his car looking at the smoking ruins of another destroyed black church building.

With tear-filled eyes, he recalled the words from Isaiah 61:3, “Give unto them beauty for ashes” (KJV). He vowed that with God’s help he would do just that for these people. Under his leadership the state convention launched an assistance program. As word spread, other denominations asked to help. Money poured in from other parts of the country. Through the program, burned church buildings in the black communities were rebuilt. Literally, people gave them “beauty for ashes”—“garlands” of victory for “ashes” of defeat (RSV)

Herschel H. Hobbs, My Favorite Illustrations (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 263.









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