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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: The Gospel Personified
Strang Report photoL to R: Steve Strang, Naomi King, Dr. Alveda King, Jim Ferrell, Frances Ferrell at Gibbs Gardens
Every autumn, Joy and I like to travel north to see the changing of the seasons. We miss that in Florida.

This year, the leaves have not turned yet in north Georgia, but we had a delightful time visiting a recently opened garden east of Canton called Gibbs Gardens. It's becoming known as one of the nicest private gardens in the world and among other features has the largest Japanese garden outside Japan. If you're in the area, you must stop by.

This year, I invited my friend Alveda King to visit Gibbs Gardens with us, along with my in-laws, Jim and Frances Ferrell. Alveda loved the gardens, which she had never heard of although she lives only an hour away, in Atlanta. We loved getting to know her and her 81-year-old mother, Naomi King, sister-in-law to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They are both delightful people, full of the love of the Lord and many interesting stories.

Naomi told one story about Dr. King that should serve as lesson for all of us. It was a turning point for the young woman when she saw for the first time the greatness in M.L. (as the family called him). He said something the Bible commands each of us to do: learn to forgive and love no matter how we're mistreated.

You can watch Naomi King tell in her own words how she visited the King home in Montgomery, Ala., to welcome their first child, Yolanda, into the family in 1955. Dr. King had just been roughed up by the police, who tried to strangle him with his own necktie. When Naomi heard about it, she said she didn't know what to say and started to cry. At only 26 years old, MLK told her, "The more they mistreat us and abuse us, the more we must love them and forgive them because hatred is very much alive."

Isn't that the story of the gospel, to love and forgive? In an era where it seems people are more hostile to Christianity and biblical morality as we know it, we must, like King, forgive others.

Naomi said, "That's when I knew in my heart of hearts he was destined to be the leader he became. It was because of his commitment and his love and his love for people."

Naomi also told us a funny story about how she cooked MLK a sweet potato pie (one of my favorites too) when he was recuperating from being stabbed in New York City by a crazed woman. Apparently, he asked for the pie. You can also watch this humorous story about ...

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