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The Warmth of Sankofa – The Ministry of Presence by Mae Catherine Godhigh

Nothing brightens our day like cards, texts, and phone calls from family and friends. These gestures of kindness are guaranteed feel-goods.

Before the invention of these heartwarming expressions, there was something called “presence”. In the village days when you got sick, in trouble, or experienced loss, people just quietly showed up and their presence spoke volumes.

Their presence said without words, I’m here because I care about you. I care about what you are doing. You are not alone. I stand in alliance with you. It is the type of unity that is missing in our nation. In our nation, we have normalized being divided. If you don’t believe in the ministry of presence let me remind you of some of our ancestors who appreciated it.

I selected Harriett Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer because many of their similarities. The incredible adversity they faced would cause even a strong man to head to the hills. Together these two great women found the same solace in their community, in family, and in their faith.

God’s time is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free. – Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman – Known as the ‘Moses of her people” was an enslaved and escaped African American woman. Later she gained her freedom and returned to the south to help African-Americans obtain their freedom. Harriett was the conductor of the Underground Railroad. Yet this strong black woman was so much more. She was a wrecking ball! Harriet was an abolitionist, spy for the Union, scout, nurse and guerrilla soldier. It was her faith, her village and the presence of the almighty God that compelled Harriet. God and the North Star led her all the way to freedom.

A black woman’s body was never hers alone.” – Fannie Lou Hamer

In 1961, Voting Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer was a victim of Mississippi’s “compulsory sterilization” plan. This was a strategic practice of genocide in order to reduce the number of poor black/brown people in the state. She was beaten while in police custody, and her injuries caused a blood clot behind her eye. Fannie walked with a limp because of polio. Later she was shot at 16 times by the Ku Klux Klan and was driven from her home by them. None of this affected Fannie’s endurance or her steadfast faith. The presence of the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and her village provided her with the strength she needed to pursue her activism. She fought for human rights, civil rights and freedom up to her death.

The moral of this article story: We simply need each other. Whether your platform is spiritual, political or activism, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.

So, the next time you hear the “clarion call” to just be present; just do it. For nothing compares to the power of the ministry of presence.