Bishop Harry Jackson is an author, senior pastor and presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches.
Among his many accomplishments, he’s also an 11-year cancer survivor. He overcame paralysis and his doctor’s predictions of his 10-percent chance of survival.
“I stand here today as someone who personally understands that the healing power of Jesus is real,” he said. “And thank God.”
Jackson spoke to Regent University students, faculty and staff at the weekly University Chapel service on Wednesday, February 8. Throughout the month, University Chapel services will celebrate the legacy of African American leaders in honor of Black History Month.
“This month has been set up not to emphasize one race or another, but to simply say there is a portion of history of these wonderful United States that African Americans have contributed to,” said Jackson. “We’re going to talk about their contributions, but we’re also going to talk about the work that’s left to do.”
This remaining work, according to Jackson, is racial reconciliation in the United States. He shared the story of a young African American man living in Florida in the 1950s who was verbally accosted and threatened by a police officer while returning home from voter registration.
The same man had witnessed the “strange fruit of the South” – African American men who had been lynched and left hanging from trees.
That man was Jackson’s father.
“I believe we are in a nation that has high values and dreams, but momentary lapses. Just like people,” said Jackson. “I’m sure there are some moments from your past that if you could ‘erase the tape,’ you’d feel more happy about that.”
But just as Jackson knows from his own story of God’s supernatural healing of his body, he knows that racial divides – among other problems in the church and the U.S. – can also be healed.
“If God can heal your body, why can’t he heal your marriage? Your community?” asked Jackson. “I submit to you that He can, but it’s a little more complicated in that He’s going to have to heal a lot of hearts.”
Jackson said this healing must come from a unity within the Church with its members willing to engage the “seven bridges of peace”: prayer and reconciliation events, education reform, civic engagement, community outreach and service, marriage and family, economic development and criminal justice reform.
“One in Christ. That’s what we’re called to be,” said Jackson. “Only the Church can model unity in a divided culture. The government can’t do it. Jesus came to set every captive free, and that Jesus can do a great work in our lives.”
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