Envision a better world

Dream big, follow your passion
By Vicki Hyatt | Jan 21, 2013
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, speaks with the Rev. Robert Williams of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Canton at the Monday prayer breakfast.

LAKE JUNALUSKA — Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, challenged those attending the 23rd Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast to secure the future by finding their passion and following it.

“The difference between mediocracy and greatness is passion,” he said. “If passion dies, we have no future.”

He spoke of great leaders such as King, Mahatma Ghandi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu who have proven the effectiveness of the soft power of nonviolence and who, through ideals, have been able to capture the hearts and minds of people in all corners of the world.

“People are searching for a higher purpose — more than money and material things can bring,” he told the group of about 200 assembled at Lake Junaluska’s Lambuth Inn.

The search is one that “empty-calorie” prayers or “pious prattle that sedates” won’t satisfy.

“God has a special plan and purpose for each one of us,” he said, and then challenged each in the room to reflect on what dreams and visions they have for the world, the nation, their community or themselves. Or, he asked, what has become of those dreams they once had.

If Dr. King were here today, Abrahams said, he would speak for those whose voices have been muted by poverty, discrimination or marginalization.

“We live in a world parched dry with injustice,” he said, asking those who heard the message to recommit themselves to obliterating the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence.

Abrahams is a South Africa native who was co-chairman of the National Religious Leaders Forum that helped bring an end to apartheid in that nation. The county had two choices — to move forward in violent confrontation or peaceful co-existence. In choosing the latter, it is now a “rainbow nation” where the moral compass has been reset. It is something King helped to accomplish with his vision of a country where people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Though his life was short, Abrahams said, his dream lives on.

Abrahams, who works at the World Methodist Council at Lake Junaluska, said he feels blessed to be in an area with so many trees. During his many years in fighting for justice, he has planted trees for special occasions as trees symbolize a confidence in the future.

He challenged the audience to plant three trees to nurture.

The first tree is one where the fruit will feed the hungry people of the world, for the “biggest single threat to global stability and world peace” is hunger, he said. More revolutions start not with ideology, but with hunger, he added.

The second tree is one that will fight the abuse of women and children, and the third tree is one for healing HIV/AIDS.

“HIV is everybody’s business,” said Abrahams, who worked at the epicenter of the disease. “The greatest obstacle is the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. The real killer is not so much the virus but the silence.”

Just as a church that has no disabled within it is disabled, a church without those infected has HIV/AIDS, he said.

In breaking the conspiracy of silence, it is necessary to recognize all people have rights, he stressed.

The prayer breakfast was a chance to “reflect on our past and act on our future,” said committee member Lin Forney.

The 2012 Wilbur Eggleston and Elsie Osborne Scholarship winner, Sharon Delorise Cullins was recognized, prayers were offered by the Revs. William Staley, Beverly Brock, Herbert Grant and David Ortigoza for world peace, hunger, homelessness and families.

Music was provided by the Pisgah High School chorus and Anita Diaz. The Rev. Robert Williams of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, was master of ceremonies.