By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams
April 4, 2014 was a turning point for me as a Christian.
During Easter season almost six years ago, I began in earnest to pursue a relationship with God at a Catholic church in Avon, learning the ritual of making the sign of the cross, praying or saying penance. This providential act was a continuation of my journey that started in 2001. Since then, I have—more than once—visited several churches in the Greater Hartford area to find a church that inspires me . I visited ones that seemingly met the criteria: Pentecostal, Protestant, Anglican and Catholic churches after I left my first home church: The African Methodist Episcopal Church, where I learned about liberation theology. It emphasizes social concern for the poor and political liberation for the oppressed. This notion is akin to Portuguese educator Paulo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed.
As a history professor and a journalist, I was interested in tracing and parsing the power of love, the kind of love for God, country, and family that propelled me to a comfortable place in life. So I was not restless—just looking for a church to not only worship God but to learn more about God’s second coming and his principles.
Since visiting different churches as a child, I found many pastors don’t often preach about the Holy Spirit. After much thought, I had questions: how will we know when God come? The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 2 that God will come “like a thief in the night.” But those who are evil and want to persecute Christians can come just like a thief in the night, right?
This was the case in 2014. Several thieves attacked me in my home just like that. I reported the incident to the Avon police. And there was no resolution. Instead, there was a series of denials and retributions. And those sequence of events led me on a spiritual journey toward being fully aware of the dangers of sharing publicly the joys and challenges of being a Christian.
The painful fact is that we live in a time when religious persecution, the systematic mistreatment of a group or individuals, is rampant. These persecutions will not be televised in its entirety. So how do we arm ourselves against such treachery that invades our lives while at home?
On my journey toward edification, I arrived in Hartford. That’s because I wasn’t able to find a church that dealt directly with the daily battle for souls. I didn’t find a church that comforted me in a time of spiritual warfare instigated by outside forces, wrestling with high principalities during presidential election seasons. I believe some pastors lack sufficient knowledge about the Holy Spirit and therefore fail to impart fully the essence of the Trinity: God, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As a historian, I was forced to trace this disconnect between these pastors and the biblical events happening in these times: spiritual warfare, diseases, heathens persecuting Christians at night by disrupting prayer time, interfering with reading the Bible, interrupting church attendance, theft and destruction of property, beatings, torture, incitement of hate and other forms of harassment.
I don’t know much about theology, meaning the study of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But I know this much is true: I experienced the joy of being in the moment with God on earth—a magnificent bright and white light. It was a ferocious feeling tethered to the heart. And Pastor John McHugh authenticated that experience for me. So I thank him for that confirmation.
After an encounter with the Mighty God in 2015, I went to Good Friday service and kissed the cross. The cross shook in its wooden cradle. During the veneration of that cross, I discovered that God’s love is fierce. It was a powerful moment. And like a tidal wave, rushing into me, God love was indeed real. And for the first time, I felt what it meant to be dating Jesus. I’m at a new church now. Let’s see.
Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is an award-winning journalist and a historian. She has worked for the Hartford Courant, the Washington Post, People magazine, Fox News and NBC 4 New York. She received a Ph.D. from Howard University and teaches U.S. History. @annmarieadams
Photo Courtesy of Fairmount Christians.org.