Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 18, 2010

MLK speaker: 'World Christians' needed

Says civil-rights leader paved the way for many

John Cannon/The Independent

ASHLAND--Dr. Acha Goris, a native of the African nation of Cameroon, challenged those attending a Martin Luther King Jr. Day unity service at New Hope Baptist Church Sunday night to follow King’s lead by becoming “world Christians” by being unbiased, unashamed and unyielding.

Goris, who moved to Ashland five months ago to direct the counseling program Lindsey Wilson College offers on the campus of Ashland Community and Technical College, said he was speaking at the seventh annual King service sponsored by the Ashland Area Ministerial Association because of King.

Although he lived in Cameroon and Nigeria until 1999 and did not come to the United States until more than 30 years after King’s death, he was able to further his education in American schools he would not have been able to attend a half century ago and was able to take advantage of opportunities that did not exist for blacks in America until just a few years ago.

“We have come a long way as a society because of the work of Martin Luther King, and I am an example of just how far we have come,” Goris said. “We should not forget that.”

The Apostle Paul was one of the first world Christians, Goris said. A Jew, Paul lived at a time when Jews thought they had special and exclusive access to God and when Greeks thought they were intellectually superior to others, but Paul called himself a “debtor” who owed everything to Jesus. He said that all people were made equal through Jesus Christ, and for that, Paul was persecuted, thrown into jail and rejected by his own people.

“Martin Luther King was not just a preacher for the black person,” Goris said. “He became God’s mouthpiece to the wise and to the foolish, to black and to white, to men and to women.”

God’s people must be unbiased, just as Paul was unbiased and Martin Luther King was unbiased, Goris said. King’s goal was always to bring white and blacks together, he explained. His message was for all people.

World Christians also must be unashamed to the gospel message and unyielding in their faith, said Goris, who has attended universities in both Nigeria and the United States and has a doctorate in counseling from the University of Cincinnati. In his lifetime, Goris said he has seen Christianity outlawed and destroyed in some African nations because Christians were afraid to speak up and to take a stand for Jesus.

Muslims spread their faith by destroying those who do not share that faith, while Christians spread their faith by converting people, Goris said.

In the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even the 1980s, the Christian faith was openly shared on American TV and even incorporated into prime-time TV shows, Goris said. Today, the Christian message is seldom heard in prime-time TV because of fear of offending nonbelievers.

“What are we afraid of?” Goris asked. “Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations. Our mission has not changed.”

Goris said he met a number of missionaries in Africa and is married to the daughter of missionaries. However, he said none of the missionaries “looked like me. I would like to see more African-American men and women become missionaries in Africa.”

Goris praised the African nation of Senegal for offering free land to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. “The people in Haiti do look like me, and I am glad to see the African nations respond to the destruction in Haiti,” he said.

Also participating in Sunday night’s service were ministers Blanchard Amstutz, J. Stewart Schneider, Phil Zimmerman, Ike Nicholson and Henry L. Mosley, pastor of the host church. A choir made up of members of several different churches led the music.

JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2649.