By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) — Critics from across the country chimed in via the internet recently to target Reggy McDaniel, owner of Mac’s Fresh Market stores with locations in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, because of a Christian-based message he published in his grocery chain’s weekly mailer.
McDaniel, a member of Kelly Baptist Church in Kelly, said he did not intend to cause a political controversy, but simply wanted to use a current topic to shine the light of Christ in a spiritually dark world.
The ad, mailed out in early February, contained the message: “Heaven has a wall, a gate and a strict immigration policy. Hell has open borders. Let that sink in.”
After the ad was published, state and national newspapers, television stations and blogs issued reports on the response from customers and other people.
The criticism on the company’s Facebook page included accusations of “false teaching” and complained about mixing religion, business and politics:
“You have lost several customers and considering this is a very small community, you will feel the impact,” one person posted. Another person wrote: “How’s about you just stick to selling food? Leave Jesus and your politics out of it.”
But, McDaniel said he has received positive messages via phone calls and emails, too, originating from 25 states and even Canada.
“I supported you before and will continue. You care about our local community (unlike our other local grocery) thank you for taking a stand. The atmosphere in your stores with Christian music playing soothes my soul. May God continue to bless you as you stand up for your faith and freedom of speech,” one person posted on Mac’s Facebook page. Another person added, “We love you Reggie, We love Mac’s! Stand strong, we need more Christians to speak up!”
McDaniel said he has included Christian-based messages in his chain’s circulars for more than 20 years and that he has received a few negative comments in the past, but nothing compared to the large national response to the most recent edition.
“All I was trying to do was point people to Jesus, and I’m guilty of that,” McDaniel told the Baptist Message. “And I’m still doing that.”
McDaniel said he is burdened about shedding light on the issue of eternity.
“You can face Jesus when you go to Heaven or you can face God to put you somewhere you don’t want to go,” he said. “If Jesus doesn’t come get you at the gate of Heaven and let you in, you’re not going to get in. And you’re going to face that ever-judging God.
“God hasn’t changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament,” he continued. “Jesus has all the mercy we want and all the forgiveness we want. We just have to go to Him to get it. I’m not the judge as to who will get to Heaven, but we’re all to point people to Christ and let Him work with them.”
McDaniel, who submitted his life to Christ when he was seven years old, said all Christians have a mandate to share Jesus in their daily lives.
“That’s what He has commanded us to do, to go and spread the Gospel,” he said. “That’s our duty. That’s just our service to God. Why would I not want to do that, knowing what awaits people in an eternal Hell.”
McDaniel said he is thankful for those who have supported his decision to share Christian messages on his grocery chain’s flier, and he will continue to incorporate Jesus in his business.
“Pray for us to continue to spread God’s Word — and pray for everyone else to do the same,” he said.
McDaniel also said it is important to engage the political process with the Gospel.
“People need to stand up and be counted,” he said. “When it comes to standing up for the principles of God, we should stand right there with our elected leaders and tell them where we stand.
“We are required to work for God no matter what,” he added.