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Singleton: It takes love, forgiveness to win

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Chris Singleton speaks at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, Sunday night.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Up and coming professional baseball player Chris Singleton is speaking from experience when he tells audiences — as he did Sunday evening at the @MACU youth event at Mid-Atlantic Christian University — that “love is stronger than hate.”

Singleton first uttered those words out loud the day after his mother and eight other people were killed at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., by a gunman who said he targeted black people in an attempt to start a race war.

“I know for a fact that love is the answer,” Singleton, who currently is playing minor league baseball after being drafted by the Chicago Cubs, said in an interview following his presentation at MACU.

Some people at the time criticized his highly public statement of forgiveness, he explained in the interview.

“That’s in the heat of the moment,” Singleton said of the pushback he got over his message of love and forgiveness.

Singleton said some people misunderstood his response as weak when in fact it’s just the opposite.

“People don’t realize how strong love is and how strong forgiveness is,” Singleton said.

During his talk Sunday Singleton asked everyone to find someone who doesn’t look like them, hug that person and tell them “I love you.”

A simple hug and simple “I love you” can change someone’s life, he said.

“I truly think I might have saved a life today,” Singleton said.

Singleton said he believes that the shooter who took the life of his mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and eight others in the church in Charleston would never have done that if he had been able to hug him and say “I love you.”

You can’t hate someone because of a chemical in their skin if someone who has that chemical in their skin has given you a hug and told you they love you, he said.

The way of forgiveness is not an easy one, Singleton said. “But even though it’s hard to do, it frees you,” he said.

Singleton said he believes simple acts of intentional kindness can break though hate, fear and distrust that has developed not just around race but also around polarized differences of opinion on political and social issues.

“It definitely is an easy time for us to be divided,” Singleton said. “But if we’re all awkwardly nice then it’s no longer that way — it’s no longer awkward,” Singleton said.

The ultimate forgiveness is Jesus, Singleton said, mentioning Luke 23:34, in which Jesus asks God to forgive those who are crucifying him.

“How can I not forgive when I’m already forgiven?” Singleton asked.

Forgiveness is one of the true keys of happiness, Singleton said, and he urged everyone to think about someone they need to forgive.

“Although we can’t control everything we always have a choice in how we react,” Singleton said.

Singleton plans to take his baseball career as far as he can and also continue his work as a inspirational speaker.

“Obviously I want to make it to the big leagues,” Singleton said.

But he also wants to keep spreading his message of love and forgiveness around the country. he said.

Singleton said he frequently speaks in schools and usually isn’t able to speak directly about his faith. But he speaks about forgiveness and often the students follow up by learning more about his story and finding out about the importance of faith in his life.

“My faith has grown tremendously,” he said.

Singleton told the crowd he used to think of God much like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.

“That’s where I was with my faith at that time,” he said.

He said as he was riding the bus to Clemson for a game there he noticed a friend had written a Scripture verse on his wrist, and he decided he should write a Scripture verse on his own wrist, and also on his glove, helmet and bat.

So he searched through the Bible and found Proverbs 24:10 -- “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.”

He decided that would be a great verse to write on his wrist, glove, helmet and bat. And he had the game of his life against Clemson on April 8, 2015, getting four hits — including a game-tying RBI — as Charleston Southern beat Clemson for the first time in the school’s history.

“God didn’t give me that Scripture for the game,” Singleton said.

Instead, God him the Scripture verse in Proverbs for the day he learned his mother had been shot and killed.

“My strength was tested that day,” he said.

Singleton said he now understands God as Creator, as “the one who loves us like no other,” and as the source of strength in the face of adversity.

He also touched on depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Singleton said 70 percent of people struggling with depression don’t ask for help. He said he used to be part of that 70 percent. Eventually he learned that it is a sign of strength to acknowledge that you need help, he said. He said he is no longer depressed but added he still sometimes has symptoms of PTSD.

Singleton said @MACU was a great event. He said most of his speaking engagements are either with youth or on college campuses. It was great to have both age groups together at the same time, he said.

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