What can one woman do in a life so hard?
The story begins with a nine-year-old boy who was being raised by a single mother. He never met his father, but his hard-working mother put in 72 hours lots of weeks just to make ends meet. He had a sister two years older than himself, and they worked a garden to raise vegetables to eat and to sell.
There was some help from the state welfare agencies. A free-lunch program at school helped feed him and his sister. And the little family felt blessed when they were able to move into a nicer house in a better neighborhood.
Across the street from the new house lived a kind Christian lady. She was not particularly noteworthy. She didn’t teach Sunday School. Her own husband wasn’t a Christian, and their children followed their dad’s lead and were pretty indifferent to faith. On a given Saturday, however, she saw the little boy and his sister playing in the yard. She asked if they would like to go with her to Sunday School the next day. As much from curiosity as anything else, they decided to go. And their exhausted mother gave permission. It would give her a bit of a break.
With whatever flaws there may have been in that little church, it opened up a whole new world to those two children. For the first time ever, they heard names such as Noah and Moses. They read Scripture and learned the story of Jesus of Nazareth. They saw people who cared about each other and whose lives were somehow different. It made an impression. They accepted Christ in that little community of faith. They were baptized there. They grew up there.
College, time in the U.S. Army, marriage, children — all these came in time to that little boy. Success in business has allowed him to bless many good works with generous gifts. He has been a faithful teacher and occasional preacher of the Good News. He has even had opportunities to teach in several foreign countries. He and his wife have taken in a number of foster children. Some of the more recent ones have been unwed mothers. Shades of his own childhood!She noticed and cared.But Jack told me the story with less concern about the little boy who became a godly man than to speak of that woman across the street from a family without a father. She noticed and cared. Without benefit of psychology or training in Christian ministry, she did something that most of us might have thought was inconsequential. She cared enough to invite them to Sunday School. There they found their real father — the Father of their Spirits, who gave them a new life.
Jack knows the details of the story well, for he was that little boy. And he loves to tell the story of Kathleen Callen’s invitation to Sunday School that day. He hopes that it might encourage someone else to do something, say something, or give something that could make a difference in another person’s life.
Things that look small are often the things that make all the difference.
© Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly’s “FAX of Life” printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the “FAX of Life.”
“What Difference Would It Make?” by Rubel Shelly is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Heartlight encourages you to share this material with others in church bulletins, personal emails, and other non-commercial uses. Please see our Usage Guidelines for more information.
About the Author
Rubel Shelly preached for decades, been a professor of medical ethics, Bible, and philosophy at multiple universities and a med school. He is currently Professor of Philosophy & Religion at Lipscomb University. He is the author of more than 30 books and hundreds of inspirational articles. (Visit the Author’s Website)