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Pausing To Spotlight…My Family

Pausing To Share…MY BLACK HISTORY MOMENT – A Slave, Midwife and Legacy: Dr. Judy Simmons – uncovered by my cousins Cleo and Melvin Graham

Who are your ancestors?

Have you thought about your connection to them lately?

Is slavery and freedom a part of your family’s legacy? If so, what impact did it have on your family’s life?

Here is a story about one of my ancestors, who played a remarkable role on the South Carolina plantation where my family was enslaved and later the community where she lived. According records we have found, my third great grandmother, Judy Simmons, was born in South Carolina or Alabama. She was initially called Judy Pickens, a surname of her slave owners Governor Andrew Pickens Jr. According to Andrew Pickens’ 1834 will, Judy and her family were deeded to his son, Governor Frances Pickens, who owned the Edgewood plantation in Edgefield, S.C. Fortunately, Frances Pickens preferred keeping slave families together rather than separating them, as so often happens after the death of a slave owner. After Emancipation, Judy’s last name became “Simmons.”

Judy figuratively stood on the shoulders of her strong African heritage and tapped into her familial knowledge of medicinal plants that she commonly used for delivering babies of plantation slave and freed women for more than fifty years (1830s to 1880s). Although she was not credentialed, she became known as “doctor” by other slaves and slave owners, out of respect for her knowledge. She was a remarkable midwife, who traveled between Edgefield, S.C., and Augusta, GA, to purchase traditional folk medicines that she used to deliver hundreds of babies. And after the War, she crossed the bridge from slavery to freedom. She crossed the bridge from dependence to independence, and in so doing she left her footprints as a path of grace that is traced to her descendants.

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WITHOUT LOVE

We thank God that for more than five years, some wonderful sisters and I have gathered, Monday through Friday at 5:30 a.m. for Early Morning Prayer. We often pray for one another, but the mandate the Lord gave when He called us together was to be intercessors. Every 3rd Saturday of the month our group gathers to encourage one another. Someone would share a Scripture and then we close out in prayer.

Today’s was 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

It was Jonathan Swift, the satirical author of Gulliver’s Travels, who said, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” I like to paraphrase that to say, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough of a relationship with Christ to make us love one another.”

(I do not own the rights to this video)

Paul explained three characteristics of Christian love that show why it is so important in ministry.

In verses 1-3 we are reminded that LOVE IS ENRICHING (improve or enhance the quality or value of).  Paul named five spiritual gifts: tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, and giving (sacrifice). He pointed out that, without love, the exercise of these gifts is nothing. Tongues apart from love is just a lot of noise! It is love that enriches the gift and that gives it value. Ministry without love cheapens both the minister and those who are touched by it; but ministry with love enriches the whole church.  

The most important lesson in the school of faith is to love one another. Love enriches all that it touches.

In verses 4-7, we are reminded that LOVE IS EDIFYING (providing moral or intellectual instruction). “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth [builds up]” (1 Cor. 8:1). The purpose of spiritual gifts is the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:3, 5, 12, 17, 26). This means we must not think of ourselves, but of others; and this demands love.

The Corinthians were impatient in the public meetings (1 Cor. 14:29–32), but love would make them long suffering. They were envying each other’s gifts, but love would remove that envy. They were “puffed up” with pride (1 Cor. 4:6, 18–19; 5:2), but love would remove pride and self-vaunting and replace it with a desire to promote others. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10).

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 carefully and compare this with the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22–23. You will see that all of the characteristics of love show up in that fruit. This is why love edifies: it releases the power of the Spirit in our lives and churches.

In verses 8-13, we are reminded that LOVE IS ENDURING (continuing or long-lasting). Prophecy, knowledge, and tongues were not permanent gifts. (Knowledge does not mean “education,” but the immediate imparting of spiritual truth to the mind.) These three gifts went together. God would impart knowledge to the prophet, and he would give the message in a tongue. Then an interpreter (sometimes the prophet himself) would explain the message. These were gifts that some of the Corinthians prized, especially the gift of tongues.

When the gifts fail, and they will, it is love that will endure forever. We will not be fully completed until Jesus returns, but we ought to be growing and maturing now. Children live for the temporary; adults live for the permanent. Love is enduring, and what it produces will endure.

Note that all three of the Christian graces will endure, even though “faith will become sight and hope will be fulfilled.” But the greatest of these graces is love; because when you love someone, you will trust him and will always be anticipating new joys. Faith, hope, and love go together, but it is love that energizes faith and hope.

In his commentary, Wiersbe says that he has ran across too many local church problems created by people who were zealous for the gifts, but careless of the graces.

Let’s break that cycle…. let’s not complicate a simple four-letter word.

Love is the key!

(excerpt from Wiersbe Commentary)