On Holy Ground with Admiral Black

One of the greatest highlights of the National Prayer Breakfast was our visit with the Rev. Dr. Barry Black. Chaplain (Admiral) Black is the 62nd Chaplain of the US Senate. I first met Chaplain Black at Andrews University in the spring of 2010 during my graduation ceremony for the PhD in Global Leadership from Andrews. He was being awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Andrews University and was the commencement speaker the day I graduated. Belinda, my wife, and my parents were there to celebrate the day with me.

When Chaplain Black took the podium and began to speak, I thought in that instant that I had never heard a voice more like what I imagine the voice of God to sound like than at that moment. Wow, his booming voice filled Pioneer Chapel. Not expecting much from a commencement speaker, I quickly sat up and was riveted to every word he said. He told his the story of his ministry and selection as Senate Chaplain and described how he was led by the Lord each step of the way, exercising his faith with each step. He shared how he became the first African American, the first military chaplain, the first Navy Chaplain, the first Admiral and the first 7th Day Adventist to be confirmed by the Senate to serve as the 62nd Chaplain of the US Senate.

While his story his impressive (See his autobiography From the Hood to the Hill), even more impressive was his evident and obvious walk with the Lord. This was my third meeting with him and each time I come away with another deep truth to think about regarding my own spirituality. In the past he has focused on the experience of Daniel and Joseph. He has talked about revelatory knowledge; how God sometimes gives us wisdom from above as we attempt to lead.  This time he mentioned the concept of “Prayer as Listening.” This is listening for the voice of God, the still small voice. He talked about God’s power connected to prayer. He pointed us to Romans 8:26 and Luke 11:13 as reference points to what he is learning about prayer.

At the end of our visit we took a moment to pose for a group photo with Admiral Black. In the photo you will see Joann Cole, Vice President of Buckner Children and Family Services, Inc., Bea Mesquias, CEO of Bee First Home Health Care and President of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, Rev. Mauricio Elizondo, Sr. Pastor of Walnut Park Assembly of God – Casa de Mi Gloria, Randy Daniels, VP for International Resource and Program Development, and Margaret Elizabeth McKissack, Vice Counsel for Government and Institutional Relations. We left the room with a sense of awe of God’s presence on Chaplain Black and we learned about prayer and listening for the voice of God.

My prayers are different now. I pray but I also try to listen for the voice of God. He speaks in many ways and forms; through the Scripture, through the words of others, through songs, the still small voice, etc. I find the more I listen, the more I can hear his voice. One of my key goals as the leader of Buckner is to secure resources for our ministry. While I will do lots of activity toward this end, my sense is that I should start on Holy Ground listening for the voice of God every day.

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