March 16, 2015
Where were you… 10 years ago, today?
Back then, I was filling two roles: about 60% of my time was devoted to serving and expanding The Master’s Program, across America. With the other 40%, I served as the Program Director for Franklin Graham’s evangelistic events around the world, under the auspices of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Following is my Point of View, 520 weeks ago:
Tasmania is an island state of Australia, about 150 miles off its southeast coast. About 400,000 call it "home;" the capital city, Hobart, has 140,000 of those folks. On Sundays, less than 4000 attend church in Hobart. Everyone is white, English speaking … and, with very rare exception, lost.
We had our rehearsal on Thursday night, then launched the event Friday evening. After two nights, we’ve had nearly 7000 people in attendance; 400 who have responded to the invitation to come to faith, with one night to go. The church leaders are thrilled.
On Thursday – during the insider meeting, with a few hundred local folks at the Event Center – they were receiving an offering toward the expenses of the Festival. An older lady came running to Ross Rhoads, one of our team from America, who had just led a dedicatory devotional. She bee-lined to Ross… and then told him her story.
She said she had no money with her for the offering, and he – graciously – reached in his pocket to "loan" her some. "No, that’s not what I’m after," she told him, as she took off her wedding ring. "My husband died about five years ago, and I don’t need this ring any more. It’s just ‘stuff.’ I want you to use this to help with the costs of the Festival." It was a modest gold band, with a miniscule diamond, but it was her most precious possession. Ross resisted, but took it, and thanked Dorothy for her sacrifice.
He led the team devotions the next morning, and retold this story … as he taught from Mark 12: “… Many rich people threw in large amounts, but a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny… Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others…’ ” (v. 41-43). What a powerful contemporary picture of a Bible story he had just witnessed the night before.
It didn’t end there. Franklin challenged our team to help, and there was a great response. From our group, we "redeemed" the ring (over $3500 was raised). The cash was put in the offering last night at the Festival, and Dorothy was invited to meet Franklin before the event.
She hugged Franklin (way out of character, for him!) and told him that, on the first night, her adult daughter – a struggling alcoholic – had responded to the invitation and given her life to Christ, along with a friend. Dorothy was ecstatic. Franklin told her that the team had purchased her ring, given the money to the Festival, and now wanted to give the ring back to her, “for safekeeping."
She was overwhelmed. She had given-up her most precious remembrance of her late husband. She brought her daughter – who had grieved her heart – to the Festival.. God had great outcomes in mind for her: she got her ring back; she produced a significant financial return, for the Kingdom (no pawn shop would have paid her $3500!). And, she got what mattered most: her daughter exercised a saving faith that will reconnect her family, in Eternity.
Thanks for indulging me; what a great story! You’ll not find it in today’s paper in your town, but it’s top-of-the-fold on the front page in Heaven!