Valley pastors promote reconciliation in new books
Valley pastors promote reconciliation
During this time when some are reflecting upon their lives and relationships, two Mahoning Valley ministers are releasing books discussing reconciliation and personal growth through Bible study.
Dwight Dumas, 61, a former pastor at the Fifth Avenue Church of Youngstown and Third Christian Church in Warren, has written on the importance of reconciliation in the Christian faith.
“Reconciliation: A Matter of Life and Death” encourages readers to understand the importance of true reconciliation and its spiritual principles.
The Rev. Todd Johnson, 37, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Warren, has published “Lifebuilders with Pastor Todd: Practical Lessons for Spiritual Growth, Vol. 1,” a collection of 23 Bible-study lessons assembled into a workbook.
Neither minister said they imagined releasing their self-published books within weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, which is challenging the health and economies of nations across the globe. But both recognize their works can be used to heal and bring people closer together.
Both books primarily are written for Christian believers, but each has lessons within them that may apply to those outside of the faith. Both men are working to bring people together.
Dumas’ goal is to encourage Christians to understand the importance of true reconciliation and its spiritual principles.
Jesus, God’s manifestation in human form for followers of the Christian faith, came to this world to reconcile man’s sin and God; Jesus is the bridge that allows man to reach God and achieve everlasting life, according to Dumas.
Reconciliation is important in bringing together opposing sides to one belief and escaping death, whether physical, spiritual or in relationships.
Dumas uses his own life in the ministry and social activism to outline the importance of reaching out to others, of forgiveness and of understanding multiple viewpoints in achieving spiritual goals. The 23-chapter book is a quick read, but it also encourages readers to look deep into their beliefs. He encourages people to reach out from themselves to work for the greater good of all.
He uses lessons he learned as a college athlete, a congregational minister, a husband / father and a community activist to illustrate how reconciliation can create a better church and a better community.
Dumas assisted in the formation and led the Greater Youngstown Coalition of Christians at a time when taking on the role meant him leaving “the best job I’ve had,” and taking a $5,000 annual pay cut.
In exchange, however, the GYCC over next two decades brought together more than 50 member churches, eight parachurch organizations and more than 2,500 individual members from those churches who were giving, praying and working together for common goals.
The GYCC was a vehicle to create an inner-city charter school, build and / or rehabilitate more than 100 houses in the Greater Youngstown area, and open a medical facility in one of the most underserved areas of the state.
“I believe having all of these churches, ministers and lay people coming together and praying with one another may have been one of the most dramatic things that happened in the Mahoning Valley,” Dumas said. “It is when we came together that organized crime arrests and convictions began to occur.”
The author has sat under the ministries of 10 pastors — five black and five white. It was not something he planned, but he benefited because it allowed him to be exposed to the inner-city old-school holiness movement, to suburban evangelicalism, and everything in between.
“I’ve been involved in churches ranging from Holiness, Apostolic, Interdenominational, Evangelical to the Pentecostal perspectives,” Dumas wrote. “I see each as a niche designed to impact those under His leadership.”
Reconciliation is bringing together two sides that were separated, in a biblical sense, so Jesus can be glorified, Dumas argues.
Separation can and has made some people in churches of different denominations believe theirs is the only way to heaven. Dumas argues, however, many paths lead to glory and that denominational / theological pride works in the enemy’s hands to divide God’s people.
“Every born-again, blood-washed believer is an essential part of the body of Christ,” Dumas wrote.
Reconciliation requires an exchange, Dumas argues. Both sides of an equation must be willing to make sacrifices that are real and substantive.
“Reconciliation: A Matter of Life and Death” is published by Leadership Ministries and can be found at Dumas’ website www.dwightdumasministries.org. and through online booksellers.
Johnson’s “Lifebuilders with Pastor Todd: Practical Lesson for Spiritual Growth, Vol. 1,” reflects his belief that Christian principles do not have to be staid history lessons, but living doctrines applicable to readers’ everyday lives.
“I have been writing my own Bible study classes for some years now,” Johnson said. “When I received some requests from persons outside of my church from those who heard them online I decided to assemble them.”
Johnson’s goal in writing each Bible study lesson is to take biblical concepts and apply them to the lives of those hearing the word.
With each lesson, Johnson introduces a concept: “You Need Boundaries,” “Serving in the Shadow,” “Through Thick and Thin” and 20 others.
With each topic, Johnson provides definitions and then encourages discussions among students, generally by having them focus on three topic areas that may help to illuminate the student’s views on the overall topic.
Johnson then provides one or more scriptural references.
On the topic of “You Need Boundaries,” Johnson quotes: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”
He then suggests life-builder action steps that readers may follow.
Johnson said he has been inspired by a variety of pastoral teachers, including his father, the Rev. George H. Johnson Sr. and his predecessor at Second Baptist Church, the Rev. Frank Hearns, who established a school of religion that Johnson continues to operate at the church.
“I am hoping that through these lessons people will see that the Bible is a very practical book that shows guidance for every area of their lives,” Johnson said. “It is not just old stories. It is very relevant to the world we live in today.”
Johnson said during this time when people may be struggling and in a season of isolation due to the pandemic, this may provide accessible content that people can take in and grow. “People can use it to examine themselves and hopefully better themselves.”
The book was published on March 23 by the Second Baptist Publishing Services. It can be obtained by writing to Johnson at 1510 Main Ave. SW, Warren, OH 44483