Note: Transcribed from video by CFC Staff —watch the full video here >


Hi I am AJ Davis and I currently serve with CSM as a Neighborhood Lead for the Wheeler and Westside neighborhoods here in Chattanooga, TN. I was asked to briefly share about prominent folks who have influenced me. There have been so many people, I could talk about Lebron James and his impact he has had, on and off the court. There are prominent coaches like Mike Tomlin… I think about my mom who has definitely had such a tremendous impact in my life.

But, I think, here as of late, two figures who have had an extreme significance on my life have been Esau McCaulley, who wrote this book Reading While Black which has been so instrumental in terms of my spiritual formation and development. Also, a lady who was featured in the book African American Religious History. Her name was Sister Kelly, and she was a slave and she ended up becoming free, settled in Nashville, and one of the things that she had to say, was:

“What is written of trouble on the heart is written in his blood, and nobody can take the glory of His name away from you.”

As I have just navigated life as of late with all the racial turmoil that plagues this country, that quote has really stuck with me. And Dr. McCallie’s book has really helped me and has been really influential in terms of just my spiritual formation because it has really pointed me back to Jesus and who he is and these are two really sort of extreme ends of the spectrum.

We have this free slave woman and we have this brother who has received his Ph.D, and yet both of them have found ways, different, unique ways to point me to who Jesus is and to strengthen my relationship with him. When I think about influential Black folks who have had an impact on my life as of late, Sister Kelly and Esau McCaulley are certainly two who come to mind.