Friday, October 11, 2013

In Memory of Bishop Leroy Mckenzie

ONE YEAR AGO, one of the greatest men I ever had the pleasure of knowing passed away. I found out on Facebook and almost had to leave work because I was so distraught. This was a man who was a spiritual father to many, a true leader in the community, a mentor to young men and a prayer warrior who genuinely loved God, the church and his flock.

Last year, shortly after finding out about his death, I wrote the following tribute:

In the year 2000 shortly after rededicating my life to Christ, I took the opportunity to move to Raleigh, North Carolina with my sister. Upon moving to the area, my first goal was to find a good church.
I felt like I was just a baby in my Christian faith and wanted to find a place where I could grow and be spiritually fed. After attending a few churches in Raleigh, I was led to a church in Durham, North Carolina. And it was here at Faith Assembly Christian Center that I met the amazing Bishop Leroy McKenzie.

Although it didn’t really make sense to me why God had led me to an all-black church, Bishop McKenzie welcomed me with open arms. It was his continual words of encouragement and his prayers that made this white girl from western North Dakota feel like she belonged.

Going to this church was an amazing experience for me. I did things I never dreamed of doing. I joined their dance ministry, took part in their drama productions, traveled by bus to attend church in Atlanta, Georgia and I went out to the streets of Durham witnessing for the Lord. Some of these parts of Durham were near the projects and I naively wondered how some of the people living there could afford such fancy cars.

Bishop McKenzie was a very dynamic preacher who loved the Word of God. He was a visionary whose first priority was to win souls for the Kingdom. By the time he passed away on October 11, 2012 he had planted 14 non-denominational churches, , authored six books and was a chaplain at a correctional facility for boys. In his ministry he emphasized the Four E’s which included Education, Empowerment, Evangelism and Entrepreneurship.

I looked so forward to going to church each Sunday which often included a leadership meeting at 8:00 a.m., Bible study at 9:00 a.m. and then finally the church service at 10:00 a.m. It was a regular occurrence for this service to last up to three hours because the Bishop would keep calling people up to the alter for prayer. Oftentimes, the Holy Spirit would tell him who needed prayer and why. It was not uncommon to see people slain in the spirit or delivered from demons during his services.

But first and foremost during these services, he drilled the Word of God into our hearts and minds – constantly reminding us that we were the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. That we were over-comers and more than conquerors. That all we needed was the faith of a mustard seed. That if God was for us who could be against us? That we were forgiven and that God loved us – and so did he.

I remember well something he prayed over me during one of the last church services I attended before moving home to start my own business. He prayed that the Lord would never give me more than I could bear. At the time,  I wondered why he was giving me this word. Shortly after moving home, I got married and 13 months later our baby was born 2 1/2 months early. She had brain damage and ended up with cerebral palsy. Those first years of our marriage were filled with stress and worry for our daughter’s health, our business and our finances. There were days I really wondered if it was more than I could handle. But once again, in my life, God remained faithful.

I regret I never had the opportunity to go back to see him after moving home to North Dakota. I am thankful though that because of Facebook, I was able to re-connect with my sisters and brothers at FACC, including Bishop McKenzie. I will never forget him, this amazing man of God who I was so blessed to have known.  Thank you Bishop McKenzie – for everything.

In memory of Bishop Leroy McKenzie, here is a song I know he loved: More Than I Can Bear by Kirk Franklin

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