Safe in His Sanctuary
We’re driving in upstate New York, enjoying warm sun, blue sky, green hills and a hard-earned vacation when my husband Dan and I see a sign: “Harriet Tubman Home.” We gasp! Then I plead: “Can we stop? Now?” We’re thrilled, as Black people, to discover this home of “the Moses of her people.” A “conductor” hero of the Underground Railroad, she helped lead dozens of runaway Black slaves to freedom. Seeing her home, however, Dan and I both feel sad.
Black history can hit us in the gut, dredging up hurts from our own childhood years. Hated for our skin color, we rarely found love, acceptance, and safety outside family except in one place: the Black church. At Sunday worship, Wednesday prayer meetings, Friday youth nights, summer day camps—the historically Black Church was a true sanctuary from a time of terror and rejection.
The psalmist David explains: “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people” (Psalm 68:35). Harriet Tubman would understand. Her beloved church in Albany, New York, still holds the deed to her New York property—a gift from Tubman in gratitude to the humble congregation that helped her provide shelter, aid, and hope to former slaves.
But the best gift of such a church? Our sheltering God. He’s still sanctuary to all needing refuge. When? Now, always, forever. -Patricia Raybon
God is our sanctuary forever.