Sunday, June 25, 2017

CAN YOU DREAM AGAIN ISOLATED AND ALONE?(Ed’s Encouraging Epistle No. 1)


In 1989 a church near Atlanta, Georgia sent me out as a special missionary/minister to do ministry with folks with a mental illness label and their families.  They did it based on the fact I felt called to this special ministry and I was an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.  Project Dream Again was born out of this ministry.  Because of life circumstances Project Dream Again has expanded beyond its original target population to include the families left behind after suicide and with folks and their families dealing with cancer and other terminal diseases.   

Learning to Dream Again and being Born Again are similar concepts.  Dream Again was not an original concept.  It was stolen right out of the Gospels.  Finding a new starting point to build the you of your dreams is the same concept as being born again to live a new life in the Kingdom. The question I posed was can you learn to Dream Again in isolation and alone?  I will answer that with an unequivocal no.  However, even if you dread human contact with a passion you do not have to be alone.

Romans 8:28 English Standard Version (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.
Footnotes:
Romans 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good

The Scripture above is often quoted when bad things happen or when someone dies.  I am not sure what the definition of “good” is.  I may not at the time understand God’s “good.”

The thing is if a person has ever felt the presence of the Holy Spirit/Jesus walking with them then if they look deep within they will find they are not alone.  If they have never known the peace He brings, then hopefully they will seek Him.

If your loved one is no longer with you you will begin to Dream Again when you feel Jesus within and know you will see your loved one again.

I wrote the following in 2008 to take stock of my inner being.   We need to look deep within.   Maybe if we followed more closely in the footprints of the Peacemaker we would be more at peace.


FOOTPRINTS of HIS SON /January 17, 2008
It is three in the morning here in Glen Alpine, North Carolina and it is snowing outside. Everything is turning white. How I wish my insides were as white as the outside looks right now, but they are not. Lawrence Wright, a Texan, is the author of the book Saints & Sinners. He also wrote City Children, Country Summer: A Story of Ghetto Children Among the Amish.

I often ask myself am I a saint or a sinner? Good or bad? Growing up with a father who was a minister, missionary, and high school principal among other teaching and educational positions and having a mother who was a school teacher (they are both deceased) does not allow one the luxury of avoiding the question. So I am forced to try to answer the question in some fashion. Let me tell you about three men I wish I was more like in some ways. You may be surprised because they are not very famous, but they are my trifecta.
First, my father Lester J. Cooper (1919-1989) not because he was a minister or missionary or educator, but because he taught me how to learn, to love philosophy, and he loved the dirt. When we got to the mission field in 1960 conditions in southern Africa were dangerous for people of my skin color. Since I am white it was decided that I would have to stay on the mission station 100 miles from the nearest town and that the missionaries would teach me. The other missionary kids seemed to do fine, but I was a problem so Dad taught me. The main thing he taught me was how to learn, and a byproduct of that was a love for philosophy. He grew up in the hills of Kentucky and had dirt in his veins. He had a garden, fruit trees, and grapevines etc. on his little lot in College Park, GA. Until he was no longer able just before his death.

Second, is Will Davis Campbell who was a major supporter of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. Born July 18, 1924, in Amite County, Mississippi, Campbell grew up in Liberty, Mississippi — a town name fitting for what Campbell wanted to find through his work as a Civil Rights activist and a preacher. Campbell earned his A.B. at Wake Forest College and a B.D. from Yale. He was a Baptist preacher in Taylor, Louisiana, for two years before taking the position of Director of Religious Life at the University of Mississippi from 1954 to 1956. Forced to leave the university because of his ardent Civil Rights participation, Campbell served on the National Council of Churches in New York as a race relations consultant. Campbell worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Andrew Young towards bettering race relations. Today, he continues his pursuit of spiritual and racial liberty as a pastor in Tennessee. Campbell's Brother to a Dragonfly earned him the Lillian Smith Prize, the Christopher Award, and a National Book Award nomination. The Glad River won a first-place award from the Friends of American Writers in 1982. His works have also won a Lyndhurst Prize and an Alex Haley Award.

Third, is Don West (1906-1992) In a book review written by Rachel Rubin this native of the North Georgia mountains who worked in in the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia is described by her like this, “West is widely viewed as one of the most compelling political and literary figures of the Southern Appalachians during the middle of the twentieth century. She goes on to say, “Don West was a poet, a promoter of mountain music, a minister, a labor organizer, an educator, a leftist activist, an amateur historian and a firm advocate for grass-roots mountain people and traditional regional values.” Could there be any higher praise for a life well lived?

What do these three have in common? They were all three ministers and teachers. They all three believed deeply in their mission.

Am I a saint or a sinner? The truth is someone else gets to decide. For now the folks who watch me live my life can decide for themselves, but ultimately I will be judged by my Creator and on that day I must rely on the hope found in His Grace. Until then all I can do is try to walk in the footprints of His Son.
You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com

©Ed Cooper, June 25, 2017, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

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