The Christian Faith of Rosa Parks

by Sally Matheny
Christian Faith of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks said, “As a child, I learned from the Bible to trust in God and not be afraid. I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face.”

In honor of what would have been Rosa Park’s 100th birthday, the Henry Ford Museum initiated a National Day of Courage on February 4, 2013. Many gave tribute to the bravery of the former Alabama seamstress, who on December 1, 1955, chose to disobey the unjust segregation law by refusing to give her bus seat to a white man.

What many history books and public speakers fail to mention is the Christian faith of Rosa Parks. Her faith in Jesus Christ was integral with the choices she made in her life—some of which changed the lives of millions.

Mrs. Parks became a hero to many that day--to others, she became a target. And thus, she endured persecution for her courageous act, including up to forty death threats in a single day.  

Former president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and member of the SBC Executive Committee, Robert Anderson, said,

“It was the bus ride that ended up changing history…

From that small act of defiance came a big act of deliverance, which would lead to the Supreme Court case in which they ruled segregation in public transportation to be illegal and unconstitutional.

That began to affect other things. If it’s wrong there, on the bus, then it’s wrong in schools, it’s wrong in restaurants, it’s wrong in other places.”

And so, Mrs. Parks will always be remembered and given due honor. But the former Sunday School teacher desired for people to know to whom she gave the glory.

In her autobiography, Quiet Strength, she wrote,

“Every day before supper and before we went to services on Sundays, my grandmother would read the Bible to me, and my grandfather would pray. We even had devotions before going to pick cotton in the fields. Prayer and the Bible became a part of my everyday thoughts and beliefs.

I learned to put my trust in God and to seek Him as my strength.”

Rosa Parks grew up with vivid demonstrations of Satan’s evil tactics—name-calling, rock-throwing, cross-burning. Complacency. Fear. Murder.

She said Psalms 23 and 27 especially gave her great comfort and strength.

        “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

         I will fear no evil, for you are with me,

         your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” 

Psalm 23:4(NIV)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?

         The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”

         Psalm 27:1(NIV)

        “I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord
         in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)

Her faith in Christ gave her courage.

Mrs. Parks said God gave her strength to love her enemies and it was He who would help her “get through the next step.”

There are thousands of true stories we need to share to inspire and encourage others to take the next step of courage.

When we remember the excellent deeds of people, let us not segregate their faith from their contributions.

Give the due honor and glory to God who empowered them with wisdom, strength, and courage.

Rosa Parks did.

Let's talk! 
What other well-known people in American history are you aware of who relied on their Christian faith to do something courageous?
For many people, we are aware of their noble deeds, but little is known about their faith. Of course, we're not going to find perfect people. But let's see who was courageous enough to profess Jesus Christ and sincerely tried to live according to God's Word. 
I'll get us started.
George Washington.
Who else have you read about?

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