Monday, March 8, 2010


Part of our country’s growing trend toward ethnic self-awareness has been a renewed interest in Gullah, the colorful language and accompanying lifestyle that once flourished on the South Carolina sea islands from Georgetown to Daufuskie.

Researchers reported that as late as 1979, 100,000 South Carolinians spoke Gullah. Current estimates count 7,000 to 10,000 people speaking Gullah at home. Without intervention, the Gullah language will soon live only in scholarly textbooks and on fragile academic recordings.

The origins of Gullah date back to a sad chapter in America’s past. When slave traders sailed to West Africa and stuffed their ships full of men, women and children to be sold as slaves to Southern planters, Gullah was conceived. As that black culture meshed with the white, Gullah was born. A thick, lilting mix of African and English dialects, it started as a makeshift second language used among the sea island slaves, and it slowly evolved into the unwritten native tongue of their descendants.

Oddly, slavery and the antebellum South fed energy to the language. Gullah served a very practical transitional purpose, and its use and culture actually developed during those years. After the Civil War, however, the separation between the black and white cultures became highly exaggerated for nearly a century and a half. Cut off from the cultural homogenization that occurred everywhere else in America, life along the sea islands changed very little. Sea islanders still fished the coastline, shrimped the marsh, hunted for game in the woods, and spoke their native tongue unashamedly.

Gullah stubbornly survived in this splendid isolation, until the world rediscovered the islands and invested millions of dollars to develop them as resorts. Suddenly, bridges were built that introduced paved roads, indoor plumbing, better education, and access to higher paying mainland jobs. Gullah became thought of as “bad English”. Soon it was something to be ashamed of or denied. Then television, the greatest homogenizing influence of all, came along and nearly snuffed the language out altogether.

Finding true Gullah today is like finding gold. Its rare, and its kept hidden from “outsiders”. Still, there are a few islanders determined to keep it alive. There still are those who knit their own fishing nets, who still cook the Gullah recipes and serve their families whole meals fresh from the sea. Thankfully, there are those who take what’s left of the sweetgrass from the riverbanks and fashion baskets of great skill and beauty – just like their ancestors did back in Sierra Leone.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


God expects us to use our gifts and because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body, and we belong to each other.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift of showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

God gives us our spiritual gifts. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

Spiritual gifts build up the body of Christ. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Spiritual gifts ought not be denied nor overemphasized. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophesies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

God distributes spiritual gifts according to his will and he has confirmed the message of truth that he delivered through angels, by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.