Get Adobe Flash player
By Dr. Mary Ray He stood before his congregation and announced, “We are now going to sing, ‘Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.'  ” With poise and confidence he led the first stanza. Then, he said, “Now we are going to sing the last stanza.” His choir joined in his enthusiasm and sang heartily with their director. The first time I saw him, I was a college student. He stepped up to the podium before a crowd of five thousand people and announced the hymn, raised his arms in the air, and I, as a recent convert, had never heard such heavenly music. The place seemed electrified. The tears flowed down my cheeks, and I stood in awe. He was a powerful figure in my life during college years. It seemed that nothing he said was insignificant, and all the years since, I have found myself quoting his words and finding strength in them. He often said, “Young people, it is all a matter of keeping your heart right.” “Clean up the room you are in, and God may put you in a bigger one.” “God wants us to be what He wants us to be, and then He will let us do what He wants us to do.” “Pursue excellence.” “There are no second men with God.” More than fifty years have passed since I first saw him lead a congregation of thousands in song. This time, his congregation was much smaller. It was in the dining room of an assisted living home where my husband and I were visiting him. His congregation finished singing. He introduced us and asked James to lead in prayer. Our fellowship and our memories were sweet that day. 26 BIMI WORLD – Number 2, 2009