Cover Story & Inside Photos By: Darwin Campbell,
HOUSTON-Like the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel and John the Baptist, Bishop James Dixon spoke as one crying in the wilderness to a people lost and wandering as sheep without a shepherd.
“We are a family and today the Black community must be clear about our state of affairs,” Dixon said. “The “Titanic ” is sinking and we are partying, dancing, celebrating and having a good time while our boats fill with water and music plays. We are dancing while drowning.”
Bishop Dixon was the guest speaker at the monthly Acres Home Chamber for Business and Economic Development Inc Business/Networking Luncheon held at the Beulah Ann Shephard Building, 6112 Wheatley Street.
That picture describes a Black community in disarray, divided and fighting against numerous efforts to throw out lifelines to rescue the perishing and care for the dying.
According to Dixon, the statistics in the Black community on crime, family values and community pride bear some grim numbers that should cause a great awakening.
“We are a sick and broken people,” he said. “We lead the nation in the worst categories when we should be at our best.”
Some of those problem areas where we are losing the battle for our future include the struggle for Black to stay out of detention centers and jails where one of three Blacks spend time; the family where Blacks experience a divorce rate approaching 70-percent and have fewer children and have one of the highest drop out rates and lowest college graduation rates in the country.
It has also affected us economically, as Blacks have fewer businesses, higher unemployment rates and are not landowners in huge numbers.
“Statistics don’t lie,” he said. “We are fast becoming a liability (on society). If this does not change, we will no longer be a people.”
God called Bishop Dixon to preach at age 15. At age 18, he was called to be the pastor of Greater Mt. Pillow Baptist Church, which at the time was a 109 year-old traditional and historic church.
Due to rapid growth, five years later, he led the church to relocate to 1023 Pinemont Drive in northwest Houston and a new edifice was purchased for a million dollars and the name was changed to Northwest Community Baptist Church/The Community of Faith.
He studied at Houston Baptist University and Texas Southern University before completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Oikodome School of Biblical Studies.
Dixon has authored four books, “The Difference is Vision”, “If God is So Good, Why are Blacks Doing Do Bad”, “Unleash Your Faith Unlock God’s Power”, and “The Secret of the Seed”. He is also a songwriter and producer.
His assessment of the state of Black Affairs was not without criticism and pastoral judgment for that institution that is the heart and soul of the Black community – The Church.
He compared todays Black churches to two types of ships: “Battleships” or “Cruise” ships.
“Battleship” churches are those on the front lines of services in God’s kingdom and willing to stand up in the face of opposition and fight for what is right, true and just. Those ships, similar to the churches in the Civil Rights Movement, are built for conflict, war and are full of soldiers willing to bleed, protests, march and fight. They are true servants who hit the streets with the Word of God and a servants heart and visit the sick, jailed, the lost and homeless and other troubled souls needing rescue.
“Cruise” ship churches pay for their trips and want to be entertained and have a good time. Cruisers steer clear of storms, choppy waters and are generally only concerned with self or some inner circle of brothers and sisters.
“Many of us have shifted from Battleships to Cruise ships and that has affected our ability to meet the challenges of today and stem the tide of issues that are destroying us as Black people,” he said. “It is going to take another movement to change our reality. It’s Movement time.”
He said the church needs to go back 50 to 75 years to a time when we were a people – “Negroes” who stood and fought together instead of “African-Americans”, who have developed a more material, self-centered and arrogant approach to life and living.
Some of those men that led movements include Pastors M.C. Williams, F.N. Williams and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to name a few.
He noted that in Houston, there are more “cruise ship” churches than true “battleship” churches and it becomes evident when a key issue hits the Black community. Whether its closing schools or police brutality, “cruise” pastors steer their churches clear of the controversy, while “battleships” are there and ready to do battle.
“When there is a crisis in Houston, you know who will not show up,” he said. “Our battleships (churches and pastors) show up for every situation. You don’t have to ask them and you don’t have to look for them or wonder where they are.”
Turning it around, Dixon said there needs to be a “Great Awakening” that changes the focus and mindset of Black people in America.
According to Dixon, it all starts with returning to a focus on the richness and pride surrounding Black history and pride.
“We have been disconnected from our history, heritage and hope for too long and it shows,” he said. “No history, no heritage equals no hope. So history is have to know if we are to turn the tide.”
He also said that one of the toughest challenges will be to erase the influences of a generation raised on and raised in immorality and bad role models.
“Black people have long tolerated and accepted too many role models who have been unashamedly immoral, unapologetically irreverent and embarrassingly illiterate,” Dixon said. “A generation exists that has been raised to think there are no rules and standards and not to be respectful to elders – It simply is wrong message from the wrong models and we must change that now because it is key to our survival as Black people.”
With about 80,000 Black churches in the United States, he challenged all Black churches to get back on duty and accept the assignment challenge to return to an active mission of working to set the example, restore values and shape and improve lives and communities.
“Like Gideon, God can use the spirit of the minority to turn things around,” he said. “God can lead us to victory with the right spirit, and by being united behind the right vision and voice. We can win.”