Many of you do not know the amazing story of a small man from West Africa, Sam Oni. We met a couple years ago when I was visiting Mercer University on my normal annual trek to our men's basketball retreat with my basketball team. The head men's Coach Bob Hoffman really wanted me to meet this man and hear more about his story. Bob had taken his team to hear him speak with Don Abernathy and President Underwood in a moving ceremony of how civil rights had come so far at Mercer a few years ago. It was the 50th anniversary celebration of a major break through.
In the heart of Atlanta we met and had a long private talk at a local neighborhood coffee shop and this kind man told me his story, the story of a life lived during one of the most historic seasons of all in the South, the early nineteen sixties, especially 1963. He shared how through the testimony and faith of a missionary who was sent to his country, he was encouraged to attend college there. Churches in the South were always obliging to fund missionary efforts, but they were not expecting to happen what happened. When a man would decide to come to America for school, a man of a different color.
Sam decided to apply at Mercer University and was miraculously accepted as the first black student in an all white school. He was paired with one of the star athletes at the time and the center of the basketball team Don accepted him into his life as the first mixed race roommate. However, the trials were about to begin for Sam and Don and the picture to be painted was full of trials, disappointments, threats and more.
There were high hopes in Sam's heart to attend church, because he felt he could find people who would love him and welcome him with open arms. The local college church pastor even took the time and came by and shared with him how thankful he was accepted at Mercer, but he would not be welcomed to worship at their church his first Sunday. Sam was amazed and Don could not believe what had just happened.
This was the beginning of a warring season in Civil Rights history when Martin Luther King was taking a strong stand for Civil Rights, when Billy Graham warned Martin to not go "into the streets" because of fear of assassination. Yet, Mr. King knew this was his lot and destiny if anything was going to be completed, victories won and beyond. What an amazing time when just a few months after Sam arrived, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The hope of the future for America as a young black man even at a Christian school was vastly diminishing with fury.
During these tumultuous times, Sam's mother back in Africa then unexpectedly died and there were many times when Sam was rejected, persecuted and it was clear, maybe he should just turn and go back home. Sam didn't and through his resolve and the courage he forged, paved a powerful way for a college today to flourish with over half of its students in the minority. Sam stood the test, but not without grain pain and torment.
This last week was a hard week for me personally as I faced surgery on Monday from an incisional hernia which needed repair, much worse than I had realized. It was a traumatic event in my life and in my recovery, who do you think called to find out how I was doing? It was Sam Oni, this wonderful man from Ghana who called to encourage me. He had been conspiring with Lynn to come to Nashville to spend time with me since my stroke. His plans had included taking a bus from Georgia and coming to spend time with me. He has been more than a friend.
Sam is my brother and I love him. He loves me too. We have a sacred bond and when I am with him, I am inspired to join the same march Martin Luther King started and join hands with these great men of faith, not to rebel for the purpose of killing, but to stand for the purpose of peace. Sam changed my world, just like I was changed when I met William Mwizerwa from Legacy Mission Village and heard this story which Randy Hartley and I came together to make our documentary feature we funded, THROUGH THE VALLEY.
God is going to open up a door for Sam's story to be told and it requires finances. It won't be from anyone on Facebook or people who will read this blog, so I want you each to pray for Sam and for VERITAS MISSION FILMS that God would allow us to share his story. Before Jesus The Last Supper was donated by Jim Gromer and when I had just met Eddie DeGarmo again about HERO, we began talking about how we could make this story so powerful.
VERITAS MISSION FILMS is going to eventually create a feature documentary about this man and tell the truth possibly even associating with feeding children in other parts of the world. Along with this documentary, we dream to tell the story of Dr. Heng Lim from Cambodia who at nine years old began saving his family from the Killing Fields! Stories like this move my heart and it is for these stories, I was born. We have many films we need to make and these are important stories of truth.
You have heard me speak of Rockhead Johnson from the Compton Crips who took a stand of courage to help at risk kids have a chance in the street gang violence of LA. I have been sharing the additional story of LORD HAVE MERCER how the Mercer Bears had enough fortitude to go against Goliath beating Duke in the NCAA tournament two years ago. These are the stories of greatness where normal people were used in extra ordinary ways. The power of story telling in truth based documentaries is huge and God will provide all we need to make these great films.
Thank you for praying for these people, for lifting up their amazing stories, for believing in their impact and joining the VERITAS 300 to lift these up to the Lord. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not yet seen and we are believing in faith, these amazing stories will be told. During this time of medical recovery for me personally, I just want to thank each of you for all you are doing to remain consistent in praying. Many organizations need what we can bring and we believe God is going before us in the best way.
May God use YOU this week in every way possible. May your testimony and your life inspire others, encourage others who are down and lift them toward the throne of grace. Use your gifts and just see how God shows off for you in ways you never dreamed possible. He still owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He still sees what you need and when you need it. He still cares for your soul and unconditionally sent His Son to die so that you can have eternal life. These promises are huge.
When I see Sam, I see Jesus. I pray this would be your testimony too.
PS As some of you know who have been praying, my film THE SAMARITAN has come back home to VERITAS and we are working on the details with the non profit who owns the picture in Houston, Texas. Please pray for us as we seek to complete this epic story.
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.