Love is the inexplicable power from heaven that reigns on earth. It has the authority to change lives, heal internal wounds, and free those who are in enslaved by their burdens. It can revitalize communities and revolutionize nations. The origin of this mystical power is rooted in the essence of our Lord God and we are privileged to the keepers of such divinity. I was first introduced to this power by my grandmother Mrs. Clara Bell Smiley. She was an older fair-skinned woman with a thick southern accent and had a smile that could melt the hardest of hearts. We were her children and she was our “Big Momma”. To be given the title of “Big Momma” is an honor in the African American community. It means that you are the matriarch of your family. She was not only our matriarch; she was the community’s Big Momma as well. The love and affection this woman poured from the depths of her soul into her family and community was sobering to the spirit. Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I had never seen such a generous and humble person. I remember how she used cook food and store it in her freezer. She did this to feed her family or her extended-community family members when they were going through hard times. She feed them food that would satisfy their piercing hunger and gave them drink that quenched the drought in their throats. But that was just the appetizer. The main course was a full serving of the word of God, seasoned heavily with the Holy Spirit, and drenched in the love of Christ. In my opinion, she gave a new meaning to soul food. Big Momma had a deep desire to be loyal to the word of God and took seriously the great commandment of loving your neighbor. I was blessed with the opportunity of witnessing this great love demonstrated when she counseled the broken, cared for the sick and prayed for the lost in the community. She made Jesus real to me. He was more real than any those who called you a heathen and threw scriptures at you then called it evangelizing. He was more real than a wailing preacher who screamed, shouted and entertained the people while their souls begged for spiritual substance. He was more real than church leaders who let the culture of politics and prejudices consume the atmosphere of their congregations. I saw Jesus in the heart of a 70 year old heroine. My grandmother is the reason why my dedication to the community is serious. She taught me how to genuinely love people and not just tolerate them. To be a shepherd and take good care of the sheep of God. These days people listen to politicians and place their empty rhetoric over God’s word and treat his sheep like foreign refugees. We must get back to the basics and love each other as Christ loved us; so that the Kingdom of God could be expanded in our lives, families and communities. Big Momma died when I was 12 years old but she planted seeds that will live forever.

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