• 66°

Group bringing mission to Brookhaven

In John 17:23 Jesus states, “… so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

This verse inspired the vision, turned movement by a group of Jackson businessmen, an evangelist and an author more than two decades ago. At a meeting sponsored by the Christian Businessmen’s Committee, a seed was planted to organize an evangelistic crusade with an overt commitment to broach the social and religious segregation that had kept the Body of Christ so racially divided on Sunday mornings. The sponsoring ministry would be called Mission Mississippi.

That seed began to take root over the following few months, and 20 years ago this month, in March of 1993, the leadership team of Mission Mississippi set out their 20-year vision to be the leading resource and catalyst for Christian reconciliation and racial healing for Mississippi and the world.

This vision of racial and denominational unity captured the heart of Phyllis Spearman a few years ago.

A teacher in Brookhaven during the times of integration, Ms. Spearman says she was very proud of how the leaders of our community managed this difficult situation. But as a student of history, she said she was horrified by the atrocities that were perpetuated in Mississippi and the South in those days. ‘ Ms. Spearman was drawn to the vision of Mission Mississippi after reading about it in the newspaper, and now she, along with several community leaders, will be hosting the president of Mission Mississippi, Neddie Winters, on March 25 in the Stateroom at State Bank at 5:15 p.m.

Ironically, according to the Mission Mississippi web site, there are currently 19 chapters, or gatherings as they are referred to, across the state. Read into this what you will but, bringing Mission Mississippi to Brookhaven 20 years to the month following its inception to establish the 20th gathering location is a unique coincidence, if not divine provenance.

Brookhaven is uniquely blessed with a tremendous sense of unity among all races and denominations. Mrs. Spearman says she hopes this meeting will provide opportunities for all races to better communicate on a personal basis. She hopes to see even better relationships.

But that communication won’t necessarily come easy. The message and mission can be very uncomfortable. According to Mission Mississippi, confronting both personal and social prejudice is imperative if racism in both cultures is to be destroyed.

Leaders of Mission Mississippi do not apologize for creating a discomforting atmosphere where minds are challenged and hearts are exposed. Doing so, of course, with the humility and grace of Christ. But ensuring someone is not uncomfortable is one of the great distractions preventing honest discussion and open personal evaluation, the organization states.

According to its published materials, Mission Mississippi has three distinctions to its overall identity:

First, within the context of our Kingdom Mandate, Mission Mississippi is committed to facilitating reconciliation, primarily between the predominant races in Mississippi. Inherent within this call is a desire for reconciliation across all lines that divide the Body of Christ, e.g. denominations, economics, politics, gender, etc. Mission Mississippi is committed to facing the multiple layers of issues that stem from this racial divide.

Second, Mission Mississippi is a Christian-valued movement. That is, our reconciliation is attained within the context of relationship with Christ. While we seek peace with all men, we are not looking to bring about a generic reconciliation, but one rooted in and expressive of Jesus Christ. Mission Mississippi believes that true reconciliation begins in being reconciled to God first, then to one another. The deepest levels of unity must spring from a common ground. For believers, that common ground is relationship with and obedience to Christ.

Third , Mission Mississippi believes that healing occurs within genuine, heart to heart relationships. “Changing Mississippi one relationship at a time” is more than a motto: it is the core essence of Mission Mississippi. Relationships can only be formed face to face, heart to heart, life to life. In a phrase, Mission Mississippi is facilitating Christ-based racial healing one relationship at a time.

Bringing the vision of Mission Mississippi to our community can only continue to foster greater unity and fellowship. Everyone is invited to attend the meeting with Neddie Winters on March 25 in the Stateroom at State Bank at 5:15 p.m. For information you may call Phyllis Spearman at 833-5198.

Rick Reynolds is president/publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at rick.reynolds@dailyleader.com.