By Rev. Kevin Slayton, Special to the AFRO

The unfortunate passing of one of our nation’s most effective and passionate leaders leaves a void that requires a similar voice to replace it. More importantly in a decade where the decision and policies promoted at the federal level will have penetrating impact on the souls of so many Americans living on the margins of society it is urgent that we not only select a leader who is qualified, but someone who matches those qualifications with an appreciation for the power of one greater than any other on earth. Yes, I’m suggesting that in times such as these we need a leader centered in a faith that sees the hope in all of God’s people. I am confident the person to fit that model is none other than former Congressman Kweisi Mfume.

When considering the challenges facing the 7th District and the future we hope for the next generation, I am convinced that we need a leader who has walked among both demographics. For Mfume, “life ain’t been no crystal stairs,” and it certainly has been “No Free Ride.” But through the power of education and prayer he has emerged as one of this nation’s most effective voices of change. He courageously walked away from a promising political career to help restore one of our most precious and storied institutions from financial disaster, the NAACP. As chair of our beloved Morgan State University he quietly marshaled its promise and institutional growth and re-emergence as one of the nations most revered and acclaimed academic institutions.

Rev. Kevin Slayton, senior pastor of Lanham UMC. (Courtesy Photo)

As a former intern of his in the late 90’s and a man of faith myself, I am a witness to the power of faith working in one’s own life. There’s a saying in many communities of faith, “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need him now.” If I might borrow from this phrase and apply it to the candidacy of Mr. Mfume I find it to be most apropos. For if we ever needed a leader who understood that none of us has attained anything good or noble without the divine intervention of God, we sure do need him now. While it’s obvious there will be an almost zero learning curve for him to overcome, nor will there be any deficiency in skill and ability to master the work of policy making, because like so many others on Capitol Hill he’s more than capable of doing just that. But what is most inspiring about his candidacy, some 20 years later, is his understanding and connection to God.  

In today’s public debate and political discourse a voice that is shaped by a faith responsive to the concerns of the poor, rejected and disenfranchised is so badly needed. A voice that acknowledges the power of prayer in the inner workings of our governance is essential to a balanced government. A voice that has faith in the power of people regardless of their economic reality is something we should all desire. In Kweisi I have witnessed such a faith.

I’m not simply promoting some fantastical idea in which I perceive of a man who has risen from poverty to promise, but rather a man who is humble enough to resolve that his own life would be nothing if it had not been for the Lord who was on his side. Over the weekend I personally witnessed Mfume engage his faith in a very public manner. Not only did I witness it, but I heard and felt the experience of it as presented through prayer and worship. 

On Friday evening, Mfume sat among a group of men at the New Antioch Baptist Church in Randallstown. This was not the traditional worship service, but one that was solely dedicated to the personal and spiritual renewal necessary for many of us to survive in an ever changing world. During this time of prayer and reflection I watched as the candidate took the hands of two men whom he’d never met and prayed openly for their success and comfort. His prayer was not canned or scripted, but filled with the expectation and hope that God would hear his prayers and answer them in His own timing.  The idea of an elected official praying is an image I believe we so desperately need. Because if there is any one thing America stands in need of, it’s prayer. And if America has ever needed prayer, she sure does need it now. 

Only a few short hours later I would join Mfume and his wife Tiffany as they fellowshipped with members of the Miracle City Seventh Day Adventist Church in their Sabbath services. Their demonstration of public worship was one of authenticity. It was not manufactured or manipulative, but it was one rooted in a full appreciation of God’s goodness. Together I watched them as husband and wife unashamedly lift their hands and their voices in worship with others who may have been of a different denomination, but no less faithful. 

In November of last year when Mfume announced his candidacy on the second floor of the Reginald Lewis Museum there were many who wondered aloud, how he could come back? Others questioned whether or not he could return after having been away from elected office for so long. And then there were others who wrote him off as one whose time had come and gone and that there was no way he could come back. But it was sentiments such as those that gave rise to a faith that works in earthly dealings in ways beyond the human grasp. For Mfume and those familiar with the Christian faith, especially during this season of Lent, they understand this thing called Resurrection. And what we understand most about Resurrection is that it works best when it has been dismissed and allowed the appropriate three days preparation period. 

On Feb. 4 I believe God orchestrated a special election just for Mfume to shift the hopes of the 7th District and this nation. But that was only day one. On April 28th I believe we can play a role in the resurrection of a man who, if the district ever needed such a man, we sure do need him now. If you’re counting you may have concluded that this would only equal two days. Where is the third day, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked. On Nov. 3, armed with the power of prayer and your support, we can tell the world Kweisi Mfume is back. Join me and so many who believe in the resurrection power of God to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we could ask or think and elect my friend and a man of faith to lead the 7th Congressional District.  God knows, if we ever needed him before, we sure do need him now.

Rev. Kevin Slayton is senior pastor of Lanham UMC. 

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