The path of righteousness is rarely simple, and it is often misunderstood, but leaders lead by example and are driven by something far deeper than the accolades from those around them. They walk the path of compassion and understanding even when no one is looking. They remain undeterred even though their personal journey is often lonely and littered with hardships.
At the Global Peace Foundation’s 2013 Global Peace Convention (GPC) I was blessed to have been in the presence of a handful of such leaders. Each with their own stories of triumph and tribulations, they gathered together for something greater than themselves. They came together to bring about moral and innovative approaches to establishing one family under God.
While their accomplishments are amazing, their characters and convictions are what are truly awe inspiring. Each of them has a deep relationship with God which nurtures their love for humanity and helps them to remain steadfast in their passions.
Bishop Sunday Onuoha was this year’s Interfaith Leadership Award recipient. I had the chance to speak with him and his wife and was struck by how down to Earth they are. Their humility and deep rooted faith was refreshing to say the least. The love that they have for God and the world was in every breath they breathed and every word that they spoke.
Before the convention I had only read about Bishop Sunday and his work. Meeting him I was anxious in fear that he wouldn’t be everything I thought he would be. But he was more than what I could have imagined. His gentle yet charismatic character was comforting. His love for his wife and family was apparent. He was passionate about his work and the progress of humanity.
He took time to ask about me and through our exchange brought something simply profound to my attention. He asked what my faith was and I said that the church I attend is Assembly of God. I wasn’t sure what to expect but he said, “That’s good. I’m glad that you have a faith of your own. It doesn’t matter what your faith background is, but you have to have some kind of faith to be involved in interfaith.”
In my life I have struggled with going to church regularly and really finding a religious institution that I feel comfortable with. But what Bishop Sunday said to me helped remind me of the importance of faith in our lives and the lives of leaders.
Each person is different and relates to the Creator or Origin in a different way. God goes by many different names but faith is about our personal relationship with that Being. No matter how or where we deepen our spiritual connection, it is significant to our lives. Our faith is what keeps us rooted, it is what remains constant when the storms of life rage wildly.
Although our interaction was brief, it helped me to see the importance of faith in life. It also showed me that righteous leaders often walk a path that is filled with challenges but that it is often their personal faith and covenant with God that helps to drive their every movement.
Each of the leaders that I was able to see and hear believed in the best potential of humanity. They believed that if we work together we can bring sustainable progress and solutions to the many challenges that face our world today. For these leaders, One Family under God is real, for it is their love for God that inspires their love for humanity. And it is their faith in God that they find comfort and hope for the world.