Commentary: Reach out to others in need of faith

07/31/2013 10:06 AM

07/31/2013 1:03 PM

When I got the call to interview Knowledge Supreme Scientific two weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.

So many claim to have shirked their criminal lifestyle only to fall back into old habits as quickly as they “find religion.” Too many manipulate others under the banner of spiritual reformation to get some sort of sympathy or leniency. This doesn’t appear to be the case with Knowledge, who seems to have genuinely turned his life around. I hope he keeps with it.

The change in Knowledge’s life is evident to every person I spoke to through the course of writing the story. The very people who arrested or sentenced Knowledge now venerate the man for his love of others. It wasn’t until after the story ran that The Item learned through letters to the editor there are some who are not so convinced of this transformation and are still pained by his past deeds.

I’ve known Knowledge, if only by name, for several years. When I first worked full-time at The Item newspaper, his name would frequently pop up in the police blotter for shoplifting or trespassing. His unusual name made his listing stand out and, unfortunately, he became the butt of many jokes.

As I listened to others speak about Knowledge’s transformation, I began to feel a sense of guilt. Perhaps part of it was for callously joking about Knowledge many years ago, but more so because I didn’t do anything to help Knowledge when he clearly needed help. He was just another person bound by his chosen lifestyle. At the time, I don’t remember making a conscious decision not to help: I guess I just categorized him as a lost cause. As I mulled over his current situation recently, a host of others came to mind — people who I thought were beyond help who had come to be vehement upholders of the faith. They had done so without one iota of help from me, the one who claimed to hold her faith in high regard.

There was the co-worker whose defining quality was his use of caustic language around the office. He has since changed his life and found his ministry working with young people. There was the high school friend who was known for his casual use of narcotics. His Facebook posts are now filled with his testimony of working with addicted persons. A former friend, and mean girl, praises the Almighty for his continuing healing of her chronically ill daughter.

The list continues to grow: countless people with whom I was closely acquainted who have become contributing members of the faith community, no thanks to me.

It’s not that I have a desire to be the sole gateway for each person’s defining spiritual experience. I know that God uses other people and other situations in a person’s road to redemption. I have just come to abhor my complacency. If I had said something, done something to encourage them or at least show them there was a different path, they may have come to the faith earlier. They might have been able to share their testimonies sooner, reached more people, helped others in their faith.

Why wasn’t I the one? It was because I simply accepted people for what they practiced, not the potential God knew they held. I refused to see them through His eyes.

There is urgency to the message of faith because if we choose to stay silent, we risk missing out on the blessing of being a part of a divine plan. Certainly we are able, nay, compelled, to bear witness to the power of faith in our lives, if we truly claim that power. We must do it now before another person can delay the power of his or her testimony in the life of another.

In the two-and-a-half years that Knowledge said that he has turned his life around, others have testified that he has spoken to a lot of people about his faith. He was recently diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer which had metastasized to his brain. Blinded by some swelling on his brain, those who know Knowledge said he has shared his faith to the medical staff that surrounded him. He speaks to others who are currently living the life he once led. He tells them of God’s great love.

You don’t have to be a spiritual dynamo, whatever that means, to share your faith. I’m sure Knowledge would admit that he doesn’t have life completely figured out. Like every single person on this planet, he still makes mistakes. As members of the faith community, we don’t point to ourselves as the example of another’s spiritual aspirations. We point to the author of our faith. In that way, we become the implements used by the Creator.

Your involvement in another’s faith could be as simple as being a presence. If someone knows there is another person struggling with the same goal, they would feel like their faith could be strengthened. With others, you might be what tips the scale in favor of a search for a deeper, more practiced faith. Still many more will simply see that inner light and praise God for it.

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