WASHINGTON — The United States of America – the world's "Great Melting Pot."
Each person who arrived in this country came with a unique family history of how their ancestors put an imprint on their life.
Yet, with all that diversity, we're often more connected than you might imagine.
Matthew Lockett is the great-grandchild of farmers and a pro-life advocate.
"He would actually make a joke out of it, my dad, I guess we're just a bunch of mutts from Kentucky," Lockett told CBN News.
A descendant of Slaves Shares Message of Racial Healing
Will Ford is the descendant of slaves. He travels the country sharing a message of racial healing.
"They didn't think they would see freedom in their time, so they prayed for the freedom of their children and the next generation," Ford explained of his ancestors.
Worlds Collide at Lincoln Memorial
They were two men, coming from different backgrounds and pursuing separate missions until their worlds collided when they attended the same prayer meeting at the Lincoln Memorial.
"I show up at the Lincoln Memorial because of this dream. I don't know why I'm there. But that was the first place that Will and I came together," Lockett recalled.
They then attended a church service later that night where Ford talked about his ancestors' prayer kettle, a pot used by slaves to muffle their voices during secret prayer meetings.
That story led to a deeper conversation, which resulted in a friendship and an unexpected partnership.
The Message of the Prayer Kettle
"We just started running around the country together, doing prayer meetings," Lockett explained.
"The Lord said this to me, 'If I heard the silent whispers of slaves under kettle pots, how much more do I hear the silent screams of babies being aborted in this nation?'" Ford recalled.
Over the next decade, they spread a message of life and love: love for both the person next to you, regardless of race, and love for the unborn.
That's only part of their deep connection, however. Lockett says there was something about their meeting that first night, and he couldn't let it go.
"He shared a part of the story that shocked me. The kettle had been handed down to Harriet Lockett," said Lockett.
Years of research led to a stunning discovery.
"My oldest known family member was a man named Isaac Lockett. All those Locketts on that list were from Virginia. The only Locketts in Virginia at that time was Matt's family," said Ford.
"After doing four months of research and another whole year of research, we've learned through empirical research that Matt's family is the family that owned my family," said Ford.
Sobering Realities and Soul Searching
That revelation led to some difficult soul searching.
"Matt's family-owned my family and I had to wrestle with that. We had stories passed down in our family of slaves being beat to death for simply going fishing without asking. I really had to reconcile some things. I really had to forgive Matt's family for owning my family," said Ford.
Lockett calls it a learning experience for him as well.
"There's many times, particularly with white America, there can be an attitude that when these issues are discussed, the history of slavery, the lingering pain, there can be a negative attitude that kind of dismisses it and says 'Look, you weren't there. I wasn't there. Get over it,'" said Lockett.
"There is a very real history, there is a very real pain associated with it generationally. And now that pain had a face, and it was the face that I love," he continued.
What could have torn them apart and ended their ministry instead strengthened their resolve to go further.
"God is raising up a united church to heal a divided nation," said Ford.
No Coincidences – Only Divine Providence
Lockett and Ford see now that each part of their story, even the tough parts, came by design.
They believe there are no coincidences and even the location of that first meeting was through divine Providence.
It was in front of the Lincoln Memorial where, almost 55 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Speaking to the crowds, King dreamed the "sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."
The Message God Is Shouting to America
Lockett and Ford believe they are living examples of the dream fulfilled and that allows them to travel the country together, sharing their dream for the church.
"I think what God is shouting to America right now is 'What storyline do you want to be a part of the healing or the hurt? The blessing or the cursing?" Ford stated.
Two men, from different backgrounds sharing a surprise connection and pursuing common mission of unity, life, and healing.