This week I was asked to do the "children's story" at my church. Usually the kids don't pay too much attention to me and this time was no exception! Since I went through all of the trouble for that minimal response, you will now get to share in that research here in this new Nostalgic Rambler posting on Mahalia Jackson.
Here is what I told the kids:
"That music you heard while you were coming up here was sung by a very famous lady. Today I want to tell you the story of Mahalia Jackson. This is a picture of her:
She was known as America's greatest gospel singer. If she were alive today she'd be almost 102 years old. She sang about Jesus to people who otherwise might not have listened. She was born in a very poor family. She was singing by the age of five years old. By age twelve she had to leave school to work full time in the Louisiana cotton fields. By age 16 she was working in the factories of Chicago. God had other plans for her though. I'm going to tell you her story in her own words. First I want you to listen to another clip from a famous song Mahalia recorded. (click here to listen). You might know it. It's called "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."
Here's what Mahalia wrote in a book:
"I'd like to tell everyone that God's got the whole world in His hand. I'd like to tell everyone that God can take nothing, and make something out of it. If, for example, I have accomplished anything, it is nothing but the grace of God that has brought me this far: all the way from the backwoods of Louisiana to the great streets of Paris, to Carnegie Hall in New York, Albert Hall in London, The State Opera House in Vienna. God has sent me all over the world just singing the simple songs of the South. That's why I love to sing "He's Got The Whole World In His Hand." Anything you want, anything you want to be, anything you want to do, God is able to lift you up. But you have to have one thing--you have to have a made up mind. You don't straddle the fence serving God; we must put our all on the altar and let God abide. In my own life, in the early desperate days in New Orleans and Chicago, I learned to lean on the word of God. I still read the Bible every day and ask God to give me the understanding of His word...
...At this time in history so many people are longing for spiritual help. There never was a time when Christians needed to be more Christian than now. They need to feel themselves lifted up in the Lord. Because there are so many people today really seeking the Holy Spirit in their lives, they would like to know that God uses us. They would like to know the power God has given us. They would like to know God's got the whole world in His hands....
....I want to prove to young people that they can take what they've got and go to great heights if they believe in themselves and have faith in God. I say to them "The Lord took me, and I was nothing, and He put me up. It can happen to you, too. If the Lord can bring me this far - take me out of the washtubs and off my knees scrubbing other people's floors -- then He can do as much and more for others."
Isn't that a great inspirational piece? I found Mahalia telling her story in a book I got for 10 cents at a local thrift shop!