|Second Baptist Church as it looked from 1884 to 2001|
|Crozer Theological Seminary|
I decided to pick up a historical book specifically devoted to a treatment of the theological inspirations in the thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. (In Search of the Beloved Community, by Smith and Zepp), thinking that I would probably find a few scattered references to Davis here and there. When the book arrived, I opened it and found to my astonishment that the entire first chapter, which examines the seminal, foundational influences on King's theological thought, was about G. W. Davis alone. This man, who had shared in ministry with our very own church here in Calais, Maine, went on to become the main theological mentor for Rev. Dr. King, whom God used to revolutionize our society towards justice and peace. We're only now beginning to discover the legacy of our direct and fascinating connection to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Naturally, our church can't take any credit for the man that King became, but we can take pride in such an intimate association with his theological journey. And who knows? It may be that some of the conversations that the young pastor G. W. Davis had with the youth group at the Second Baptist Church served to solidify and confirm and add zeal to his convictions. It may be that God used the prayers, questions, insights, and encouragements of this church to empower Davis for his further service, where his theological work, through the labors of his protege, ended up shaping an entire nation.
It's easy to think sometimes that simple, ordinary people like us can't really be used to accomplish anything grand for the Kingdom of God. But my church's story in the formation of Martin Luther King's mind and heart is a powerful example to the contrary. Rather like the "butterfly effect" in chaos theory (where small initial acts can result in massive differences on the other end of a system, like a butterfly flapping its wings providing a necessary initial condition for the formation of a hurricane), our little, out-of-the-way church, in its conversations and prayers for its pastor, may have been those butterfly wings flapping gently, which, three decades later, broke loose in Rev. Dr. King's hurricane of Christian social reform across the nation.
God can use anyone, even in small, simple ways, to do mighty things for his Kingdom. A word of encouragement, a conversation about God's grace, a prayer for the work of the Gospel--any of these things might plant a seed that God will one day raise up into a towering oak to stand strong for his Kingdom. So be faithful in all the little things, and God can use us--even our small and little-known efforts--to change the world forever.
(All images used in this post are in the public domain.)