By Samantha McKenzie
“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
This was the music I grew up on.
Years of Bible study at my aunt’s dining room table and weekly Sunday school classes at Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., were staples in my little life. I learned to read the Bible before I learned my alphabet. I was sounding out difficult names like “Ne-bu-chad-nezz-ar” before I entered kindergarten. The Bible was my pre-school and my mother and aunts were my teachers.
When it was time to pray at a family gathering, one aunt would lead off, followed by the next, then the next, in sync, until one of the uncles would break the cycle and beg for them to stop so we could eat. We would chuckle under our breaths and thank God for the food and his brazenness every time.
I grew up around faithful women who prayed in an array of fashions. Some with clasped hands laden in silent tears and others with dropped knees to the floor followed by Jesus’ name pressed against their teeth. Other times, they would lift their hands open palms to the sky, bodies swaying with words of praise pouring out of their mouths. From the time the sun rose to when the lights went out in my house, mother had said countless prayers for each of us. This was my life.
Aside from school, dance class and tag football on the street, I was surrounded by believing women. They were strong, in a feminine way, and watching them made me feel powerful. They were tough and tender and rarely raised their voices. I watched my mother move many a mountain and saw my aunt lay her healing hands on the sick. There wasn’t anything blind about this faith. In fact, I perceived it more as intrinsic insight.
I remember when my aunt opened a Sunday school in her living room for the neighborhood children, but instead of a sermon, she served food and gave out second-hand clothing. When I asked her why she didn’t preach, she said, “I did give a sermon. I gave the children what they needed.”
These are the stories of my believing women. There are millions more around us. They speak softly, so we don’t often hear them. They cry silently, so we think they are asleep. They lean so deeply into their faith that their curves show.
How fascinating. How incredible. So thankful for my believing women.