By Daisy Rodriguez, student news writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – The Rev. Montel Richardson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Campbellsville, spoke about remembering pain for Black History Month, at Campbellsville University’s chapel recently.
Richardson read from Psalm 137:1-4.
“By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”’
In September 2017, Richardson was called to become pastor of First Baptist Church of Campbellsville. In October 2014, Richardson became an associate at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Ky. where he served three years.
He begins telling a story of him and his wife watching a movie called “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” He said a woman in the movie sang a song called “Strange Fruit.” He said the song carried so much weight.
“The song that she sang spoke about the time she lived. It started off as a poem. She was able to take these words and music as she raises awareness to the lynching of Black bodies that time. The movie detailed the fact that the United States government sent the FBI to stop her from singing the song. There’s always a time to remember pain,” Richardson said.
He said as we celebrate the first week of Black History Month, they wouldn’t tell us the painful experience of a Black person being imported from their home and brought to a place where it was foreign to them.
They would see men be raped in front of their children. They would see mothers being taken away from their children and families. These people were constantly moving around but tried to keep joy in their hearts.
“All I’m trying to tell you today is that there is a time to remember pain,” Richardson said.
He said instead of constantly talking about the past, we could talk about solutions to help us move forward, but to never forget. He said, “No one likes to be held against their own will because that alone is painful to remember.”
Richardson asked how do we handle life when everything around us gets difficult and we stress out to where we can’t give glory to God? He said it’s hard to worship God when we don’t like the things we see.
“The pain of the past can be either a reminder of where you’ve been or a key to unlock the door of where God wants to take you,” Richardson said.
He said during the pandemic, people were afraid that there was no hope and that things weren’t going to get any better and people have lost trust with God. However, he said in the mist of all troubles, God is still worthy of worship.
Richardson told a story about a rich man and two artists who were tasked to paint a beautiful painting for a rich man. The purpose was to show the rich men what peace looked like.
The first artist discovered a beautiful meadow of the greenest grass, blue sky, a calm river and a small beautiful house next to a tree. The first artist paints the scenery and shows it to the rich man and said “that is what peace looks like.”
However, the second artist said he wanted to get a chance to paint it too, but the rich man said, “You can, but the first artist already won.” However, when the second artist went to the meadow, the sky was a dark gray and it wasn’t as beautiful. The river wasn’t flowing as calm, but rather violently.
“He still went out to the meadow and painted that picture. He painted what he saw and showed it to the rich man. And the rich man stands up with tears in his eyes and said, ‘That’s a portrait of peace.’ But the other artist said, ‘What about me? What I did was beautiful. You said I won.’ The rich man compares the paintings.” Richardson said.
The rich man said, “What stands out to me is that even though that picture is dark, dim and depressing, right on the top of the hill, next to the house, even though the wind is blowing that tree making it touch the ground…there’s a little bird in that tree. Even though the tree is moving back and forth violently, the bird is still there.”
“Don’t lose your song no matter what life throws at you, no matter what season of chaos throws your way. Don’t lose your song,” Richardson said.
Richardson is a 1998 graduate of Hopkinsville High School and a 2016 graduate of the American Baptist College in Nashville. He began his ministry nearly 21 years ago at St. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Pembroke, Ky.
Richardson is the husband of Ethosha Cruite-Richardson and the father of Montel II, Trinity, Ethan and Gabrielle.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of studying including Ph.D., master, bachelors, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.