Stone Mountain First Baptist Church
A Tragedy That Opened A Door (Micah 4:2)
A needed change began in our church on Thanksgiving Eve 2003, when I received a phone call from a deacon, Frank telling me that one of our families, refugees from Sudan, had been in a terrible accident in Chattanooga.
Daldoum and his family had come from Sudan two years before escaping the horrible persecutions in their country. They were in route to a Sudanese convention in Memphis when the father lost control of the car. When the car left the highway the impact threw the oldest boy from the vehicle. The wreck became fatal for four of the family of eight.
Frank called during the our holiday family gathering to let me know that he and Gail were on their way to the hospital in Chattanooga and that he would call and let me know when I should come. This deacon had become a true pastor to the refugee families in our church and remains so even today teaching and ministering to internationals. I called the hospital and while speaking with Daldoum, the doctor came and told him his wife had not survived. My first ministry then was to speak and pray with a husband who had fled the dangers of Africa for the freedom of America, only to have half of his family taken in a moment. The oldest son was about to go in for brain surgery. His infant son, two year old boy, and only girl, age 10, had already bean pronounced dead.
Frank called again at midnight and told me not to come because the family was surrounded by Sudanese Christians who were ministering to the family. He said they were coming home because the family was in good hands. The Sudanese asked our church to host a prayer meeting on Friday after Thanksgiving so that all the Sudanese could gather and pray.
Our deacons and wives helped with the prayer meeting, which in essence became the Convention for that year. We prayed with nearly three hundred Sudanese and Ethiopians while our wives ministered to their children. Along with preaching and beautiful singing, the father gave a testimony that brought glory to God with such a statement of faith and trust in God from the heart of a man who had two days before experienced the death of his wife and three children. A week later we hosted the funeral, with four caskets lining the front of our sanctuary. The City of Stone Mountain provided burial sites and the funeral home provided their services. This tragedy left many people wondering, "Where is God?"
God was there doing an amazing thing in this tragedy. Before, we had a difficult time reaching African Americans, but God would use the tragedy to enlarge the heart of our people leading them to openly express compassion for all people. Since then we have reached African Americans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Jehovah's Witnesses and people from many nations and tongues with the love and message of Jesus that pours out of our people. Some have wondered why our church had been left there while others had moved or disbanded. We know why. God has given us a mission that He is empowering. Micah gave us a word in a Messianic picture which also is a glimpse of what Messiah is doing in our fellowship even today. "And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2).
- Dan Parker, First Baptist Stone Mountain, GA.