Reverend David Kennedy
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February has been designated Black History Month. A story recently hit the national news that embodies this month. It is the story of Rev. David Kennedy. He lives in Laurens, South Carolina. It’s a small town in a rural area, and for more than 20 years Rev. Kennedy has been working to bring racial reconciliation to that place. You see, that small town housed the World Famous Ku Klux Klan Museum. In 1997, due to an interesting string of events only God could orchestrate, the Reverend ended up owning the building it was housed in.
The reason Rev. Kennedy’s story is in the news right now is that it has been made into a movie about to be released on February 28th. It’s called, “Burden”. The title comes from the name of a man, Michael Burden. Michael was a Klansman who was tasked with killing the reverend, as he “bothered” the Klan. They had lynched his uncle more than 100 years ago, and now one of them had opened a shop filled with Klan memorabilia, called “The Redneck Shop”. Rev. Kennedy tried to get them to close the shop, as he felt it was a magnet for hatred. Instead of being bitter and angry and hating the Klan, Rev. Kennedy decided to walk in the ways of His Savior. He forgave the racist acts, and tried to get them to reconcile with him. His quest began in the 1990s, and the Klan was having none of it.
However, it appears that God intervened as Rev. Kennedy prayed. The title to the property where the museum was housed was in the name of a key member, Michael Burden. Under pressure from his girlfriend, he tried to leave the group and was kicked out of the building. David saw him on the street with his family and intervened to help him without question. Out of those circumstances, Michael deeded the building to him for $1000. However, there was one caveat: David couldn’t occupy the building while the owner of “The Redneck Shop” still did business there. That tenant finally passed in 2017, clearing the way for David Kennedy to finally heal history and bring full restoration and reconciliation to Laurens.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32; BSB)
Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:
- Notice the years mentioned in the story above. Rev. Kennedy was not working to end racial hatred in his town in the 1920’s or the 1960’s. It was 1996 to now. Let that sink in.
- Follow the directions in Ephesians 4:31-32 and make sure there is nothing negative in your own heart or mind toward any other racial group.
- Are you aware of any racially charged situation(s) in your city? Intercede regarding it.
- Pray that the Lord uses the movie, “Burden”, to highlight how the Church moved to lovingly correct history in their town. Pray it catches on!
- Decree, “I will pray and act to end racism and bring reconciliation in my own community. Racism will eventually end in the United States of America.”
A prayer you can pray:
Father, what a motivating story of the persistence of Your love in Your people. Rev. Kennedy never gave up. He knew what you wanted him to do. He had a choice to hate because of his uncle’s lynching by the Klan, or to forgive. He chose the latter, then he lived it out. You set up the circumstances, and he walked right into them and through them in righteousness. I am very sure it was not easy. I can imagine it was frightening at times for him and his family, but he leaned on You, and look at the outcome! Now, the whole world will be able to see what Your love can do. History is being corrected in Laurens, South Carolina. Hate is being challenged and love is winning. We need a whole lot more of that in America. This is one of countless racial conflicts happening in the U. S. on too consistent a basis. Make us the answer, Lord. We are supposed to be, but we often ignore things, because it’s scary or hard. If we are confronted, let us show love. If there is any opportunity for us to engage hate like this, give us the opportunity to bring You into the middle of it. Use Rev. Kennedy and Micheal Burden’s story to shift the nation’s mindset. Let the world see the love of Jesus. I will pray and act to end racism and bring reconciliation in my own community. Racism will eventually end in the United States of America, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
One situation at a time, one town at a time, we will repent, forgive, and heal our land.