Stigmatized
Off The Wall, July 16, 2009

It’s true. Some people acquire a trait of sorts and they carry their actions all through life – by choice. They feel led to do so, maybe by behavioral patterns that were developed in their early years of growth or during early adulthood.

It was brought to my attention not long ago that one famous radio and television broadcaster had been found guilty of sexually harassing a woman in the same company where he worked. As a consequence, he had to pay out a great amount of money to settle a lawsuit. So, upon learning more about this individual, I found it was an occurrence of the past, and he has put it behind him, moving on, reforming his lifestyle.

Now, the party who educated me as to this person’s past feels this man will always be the same, and he will never change. So, from this person’s viewpoint, he is stigmatized for life. I’m sorry, but personally I think that is unfair. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t made mistakes in his past. But everyone I’ve ever talked to tells me the same thing – “If only I could live my life over, there would sure be a lot of things I would do differently.”

Recently, I read about a drug dealer who turned his life around. In short, he became a priest. There is turning something negative into positive plus if I ever wrote about it.

Ken Tamplin, 40, recipient of several Dove Awards and founder of Tamplin Music, started with drugs very early in his life. Making a long story short, his involvement with the drug business led him down the wrong path where he eventually overdosed on angel dust three times. Through the guidance of his mother, he was introduced to Melodyland Christian Center. Ralph Wilkerson was the charismatic pastor.  As the two sat in the congregation, the minister started revealing facts about Tamplin, much to his surprise. He thought his mother had called the pastor and told him this information. But it so happened these were revelations his mothers couldn’t have known. That stunned the composer and songwriter. He was led to Wilkerson where he felt God’s touch. That was the beginning of a whole new man heading in a positive direction. Since then, he turned his life around fantastically. He created a “Make Me Your Voice” CD project to raise money for the victims of genocide in Sudan and to promote a peaceful end to the Sudan conflict by featuring such artists as Andrae Crouch and Charlie Peacock. His efforts gained him an invitation to meet President Bush in 2002.

Then there’s the story of Kirk Franklin. He has sold more than 10 million albums in less than 10 years, was awarded three Grammys and a seven time Dove Award winner. His hit “Stomp” from the triple platinum album “God’s Property” made him a star.

But what put the damper on Franklin’s profession was his addiction to pornography, so wrote Scott Ross in an article for CWNews, May 21, 2004. He thought he was doing it in secret. “I was watching it at home while my wife was asleep,” he said. She eventually found out, but to no avail. He continued his interests. One day he met a minister who wasn’t dazzled by Franklin’s celebrity status. Instead, he was treated the same as everyone else who entered the church. Kirk said, “With Pastor Tony Evans, he could care less who I was, and if I didn’t get there in enough time, I had to sit where everybody else sat. I got mad at it. But then there was something pulling me to it. And I was crying out to be disciplined.” And so he called the pastor one night declaring, “I need help, I have a problem.” From that point on, Franklin started cleaning up his act. Pastor Evans had taught him Romans 6:12-18. “My victory didn’t come by my emotional experience,” he proclaimed. “When I was taught truth, that’s when I got my freedom.”

So, don’t tell me people can’t change. To say once a “whatever,” always a “whatever,” is poppycock. These examples are proof. There are more who tried and have succeeded.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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