Reverend Joseph Frank Hall looked out across the crowd. It
was a September Sunday, but the church was packed as if it were
Christmas or Easter. Some 2,500 people were in the main
sanctuary. The two overflow rooms at FreeWill Baptist were
crammed with another 1,000 people.
Today, even the lobby and aisles were filled. People were hungry to
hear the Word of God.
Rev. Hall had seen a lot over his three decades leading FreeWill
Baptist. A big part of his job heading the city’s largest Black church was
dealing with the pain of tragedy and providing comfort for his large
As he looked at the filled church, he saw fathers holding sons and
daughters tightly, and women standing up praying with hands outstretched
to the sky. Young and old parishioners looked at him anxiously with tears
filling their eyes.
“Oh Lord, give comfort to your brethren,” he whispered, as he closed
He’d seen that look among his parishioners over the years. He called
them “surrender faces”. It was the look they wore when life became too
tough, and they’d come to him and to God for comfort. He’d come to
expect that look during bad times, but what tore at him most, what ripped
and shook his strength, were the confused faces of young kids. Today,
many appeared bewildered as they watched the adults caught up in the
Holy Spirit or simply calling out to God for answers. God had given Rev.
Hall the gift as a pastor to provide a healing balm.
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