Something happened recently that blessed my soul, and I have decided to share it with you in the hope that your heart and mind might be pricked to remember someone that has done something good for you. Just perhaps when the event, act or incident happened, you were too busy, too immature, too troubled, or just too self-centered to think much of it at the time. Maybe you did appreciate the gift, but did not take the necessary time to say thank you to the giving person.
At our large church in Georgia, we often had college kids work on the weekends to learn practical applications of the ministry they were taught in the classrooms during the week. These kids came to our area from various Christian colleges and were often wonderful help on the many bus routes we ran, in the Sunday school classes and children’s churches, in cleaning the buildings, running errands, and helping to teach and coordinate activities on Sundays. In fact, these young men and women were a genuine blessing to the staff members and pastor in particularly.
The one thing they enjoyed more than anything else was eating good food in one of our homes or at a local restaurant when someone sprang for a meal. The very best of these kids were asked to come back for the entire summer and work not only in Sunday school and church, but also in our huge vacation Bible schools where they were put to the test. Several did accept the invitations and showed up the day school was dismissed for the semester.
One young lady that I remember so vividly to this day came from a broken home on the wild streets of Dade County, Fla. Her mom was a known prostitute and she had not seen her dad in years. Suzie had been picked up on a bus route that was run by a good church in the area, and she attended faithfully every Sunday. When she could, she went back on Wednesday nights and any other time the church doors were opened. She was such a faithful church member that people in the church banded together and paid Suzie’s way to a Christian college, realizing the child needed a break to escape the lifestyle she had grown up in at home. Drugs, alcohol, rape and even a murder filled the pages of her past. She was delighted and wanted to be a blessing to those that had been such a blessing in her young life. Suzie was one of the kids invited to work all summer at our church and she accepted the invitation readily. She did not have a lazy bone in her body and was quite beautiful.
We asked her to stay in our home and often took her with us when we ate or shopped, but generally speaking, she worked many hours at our church. We favored a nice steakhouse near our home, and the manager offered Suzie a job when she was not working at the church. We talked it over and suggested she accept the offer to be able to put up some funds for the coming school year.
When I picked Suzie up that first afternoon, she seemed downcast and despondent, something I had never seen in her. I asked what was wrong, and Suzie mumbled, “Nothing, Miss Brenda. I don’t want to bother you with my troubles.” That wasn’t satisfactory. I had come to love this young lady. So, I asked again. And with tears streaming down her cheeks, she told me that the manager had said she could not work there without the proper shoes and pants. The company provided the shirts. I said, “Well, no problem. We’ll go buy a pair of shoes and a couple pair of pants. You’ll look just fine tomorrow when you go to work.” Suzie sobbed all the way to the store. She dried her eyes and we went inside and bought the items she needed. That child was so proud of her new work shoes. They reminded me of nursing shoes – white, bulky, but very comfortable looking.
Suzie worked for the church and the steakhouse the rest of the summer, went back to school in the fall on full scholarship, and later married the man of her dreams and is now serving in a large church that he pastors. She is the first lady of that church and is a wonderful testimony to the Lord’s grace and love.
She wrote me today and said, “Thank you for the white work shoes. I had never had anyone buy anything new for me in my entire life, and all I did was mention that I needed them, and off we went to the store. I know I thanked you that day, Miss Brenda, but I want to thank you again.” Suzie went on to tell me how that every time she had faced a difficultly down through the years (and believe me, folks, building a good church can be a difficult and tiring process), I went to my closet and looked at those old torn up shoes and thought, ‘God took care of me then, and He will now.’ Those shoes have been my symbol of hope, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Dear Lord, help us to remember that every honest investment in the life of another will come back to bless us packed down and running over. Who can we help or encourage today?
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.