Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Gift of Love


Jesus sat in the Temple and watched as crowds dropped their offerings in the collection box. He told his disciples that a certain widow had given more than the many who had given a much larger amount of money, because she gave out of her poverty while others gave out of what they had left over (Mark 14:41-44). The story reminds me of my friend Clinton Tuck who I’ve written about several times before on this blog.

Several weeks ago, I read a story in Christian Odyssey magazine of a former Buddhist couple turned Christian who started a bilingual school in Thailand. They wanted to share the gospel with their countrymen. They saw a need as Thais desire to learn English to improve their careers prospects. They were encouraged by a friend and mentor who many years ago, gave them $100 to get started. They bought and renovated a five story office building, which is now a school for several hundred students grades K-6. Earlier this year they opened a kindergarten in a building that was once a warehouse which stood behind the office building.   

I read that the couple, Chugait and Fong Garmologomut was in need of high quality educational books in the English language. I sent an email to my friends and posted a request on Facebook. I received a donation of books from a friend and on the following Sunday made a verbal request for books at my local congregation, Worldwide Grace Fellowship. Many were excited about contributing to the effort. I was planning on collecting the books over the next couple of weeks and then mailing them to John Halford, the editor of Christian Odyssey and a friend of the Garmologomuts. Mr. Halford is coordinating the effort here in the U.S.. However, during that same week my aunt, who has been battling cancer, ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of her local hospital on Long Island.  When I spoke to her over the phone, she asked when I was coming up for a visit. I told her I was planning on coming in early June to housesit and dogsit for my cousin who was planning on attending our cousin’s wedding. She said “Oh.” It was an “Oh” of disappointment, an “Oh” like I don’t know if I will live that long. I thought about that conversation while lying in bed that night and by the next morning I decided that I should leave that Saturday, May 12 to see my aunt and the rest of my relatives including an uncle who is suffering with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Before I left my home in Kentucky, I called my friend Clinton and asked if he would like to help me collect some books for the children in Thailand. His response was: “I got your back.” It’s the response that I’ve come to expect from Clinton.

When I returned home from my trip, I went to see Clinton at Shady Lawn Nursing home where he lives. He was wearing his typical big smile as I walked into his room. He had collected two very large boxes of books from his friends at Shady Lawn and Rocky Ridge Baptist Church. I jokingly said that maybe someday he and I could go visit the school in Thailand. To which he responded with and ear to ear grin.

Clinton isn’t wealthy by this world’s standards. Yesterday as I was combing through the books and packing them in smaller boxes, he told me that everything he owned was right in the room where he lived. As I looked around to observe his belongings, there were photos of many of his friends taped and pinned to the wall over his bed, along with his television set, some clothes and a collection of hats and caps. Yes Clinton is a lot like the widow that Jesus spoke of. He doesn’t have worldly possessions, but he does have a gift of love in his heart given to him by the One who he is passionately fond of, Jesus Christ our Lord.