Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

The greatest fire starts with a single spark

The lifeblood of any community is its engaged citizenship.  The very character of a community is shaped by its contributions, generosity, and compassion demonstrated by the residents that live and businesses which operate there.  I grew up in a family where my mom was active as a volunteer for March of Dimes, the local PTA, and the Jaycee-ettes.  Dad was president of the Jaycees, Kiwanis, United Way, Red Cross…and the list goes on and on.

 

One thing that I have learned over the years is that very often the individuals who provide so much might often go unheralded.  However, their efforts are never unnoticed. We may have no idea who contributed their time and financial resources to improving our lot in life, but the contributions are felt none the less.

 

Not long ago I was reading the story of Edward Kimble.  Few of us have ever heard of Edward.  He was a shoe salesman.  He never ran for political office and never accumulated great wealth.  I guess you could say he was just an ordinary guy with an ordinary life.  So, what makes him so special?  He was a Sunday School teacher.

 

Edward worked hard selling shoes during the week and one day, trying to get ahead, hired a young assistant.  Edward shared with the young assistant his passion for Christ.  They began to read the Gospels together during breaks from their work.  The young assistant became inspired, professed his faith, and became a Christian.  His name was D.L. Moody and he became one of the most well known evangelists up to that point.

 

Moody later inspired another young man, Frederick Meyer, who as a result of the encounter, started a nationwide preaching ministry.  A young college student by the name of Wilbur Chapman accepted Christ into his heart as a result of one of Meyer’s sermons and he too, went into the ministry.  Meyer started a crusade and hired a professional baseball player named Billy Sunday to preach the gospel.  Sunday became one of the most renowned evangelists of his time and scheduled a series of crusades throughout the country.

 

A group of businessmen from Charlotte, NC heard Sunday and decided to bring him to our region to preach the gospel.  At the last minute, Sunday could not come and he sent another evangelist named Mordecai Ham.  Ham’s meetings were really not well attended.  They were held just outside of Charlotte in a tent with sawdust floors.  However, on the last night of the meeting, a tall lanky farm boy named Billy Frank made his way up the aisle and accepted his Savior that evening.  You know him as Billy Graham, who has preached to more than 210 million people in 185 countries.billy-graham

 

In 1968, my church encouraged families to attend an independently filmed movie called For Pete’s Sake.  The movie featured Graham and while I cannot say I remember much about the movie, I recall vividly what took place after the feature ended.  I was nine years old at the time and it was playing at the Cinema Theater in Rock Hill.  After the movie concluded, a man came out on the stage and gave his profession of faith.  Sort of unheard of in today’s age, but I can still recall how quiet everyone was as this man talked about how Christ had changed his life.  Afterwards, members of the Billy Graham Association called anyone up that also felt the calling. 

 

Who knows why I went.  But I remember the kids I went with refusing to walk up the aisle with me.  A man up front handed me some type of book by the Graham Association.  I recall it was a paperback of some type.  I wasn’t much of a reader at nine but I did keep it in a drawer with other personal effects for many years. Six years later, I joined Bethesda Presbyterian Church as a member.

 

In 1996, I was fortunate to attend a Billy Graham Crusade in Charlotte, NC.  As the words of Just as I Am was sung and the masses flooded the aisles,  I thought of the little boy as he walked the aisle that Saturday morning in Rock Hill.  Leaving my friends back in their seats, I joined the countless others who felt compelled to come forward.

 

A single act by Edward Kimble, a simple shoe salesman generations ago, started a chain reaction, touching millions of lives, including mine.  Such is the nature of service to your community.  Sometimes the smallest act of kindness is replayed over and over again.  It is the smallest spark that creates the greatest fire.

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March 27, 2009 - Posted by | Personal | , , , ,

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