Someone once asked me, “did it ever seem like a situation worked out so that it was obvious God was working on you or through you?” After I thought about it for a few moments, I began rattling them off. There were long-term commitments that lasted years, and short interactions that came and went in a blink of eye. There were those that allowed me to make a major impact on someone or someplace, and those where the impact on me was life altering. I have always known that God used me in special ways, even when I hand little belief and almost no understanding of Him. I’ve been told that I’m like Forest Gump in that my friends and I have had so many experiences that “ordinary people just don’t have”. Well, my Gumpishness is definitely God driven.
Of my Godly experiences, the last thought that came to my mind was actually the one of the most special ones to me. It was during my adventures in Iowa. After my first year there, I had amassed a large contingent of minority students. As the Dean of Enrollment, I had been given the job of increasing the minority enrollment from 8% Black and 11% total, to 11% Black and 15% total. Seeing as the state was only 2% Black, and 5% minority total, no other college in Iowa history had ever had come close to those levels. Well, my second fall recruitment brought us up to 25% Black, 10% Hispanic, and 7% “other minority” and international students. Having done a lot more than “window dressing”, I wasn’t very popular with many of the people who liked having mostly “normal” students (their word, not mine) on campus. Still, with the kids that came from as near as Chicago, and as far as Jamaica and China, I was pretty well respected. I did have one problem with my original class, and that was despite my ability to supplement their tuition money, a private school education was still brutal on their family finances. So two weeks into their second semester, many were faced with the prospect of getting their packing notices.
Of course, my position was that I never wanted to lead lambs to the slaughter. For them to leave school with loans and no degree because of me was unacceptable. Then, on the second Saturday of the semester, we were entertaining the last minute potential registrants… something I hated. One man came in with a potential student from Chicago. I didn’t want to be bothered with them since I was in the middle of praying for a way to keep the kids I had become really close to from having to leave. I don't like my prayer time interrupted, and besides, they came two weeks late… Grrrrrr!!! But as I listened to the counselors go through the spiel, I realized that the man who brought the kid wasn’t his father, but just a guy who went to the kid’s church and took an interest in him. Well, if he can bring a kid five hours to see a college, I can at least go out and talk to him. So I went out and made some small talk. After about three minutes, we realized that we were kindred spirits. I offered to show him around the campus, he accepted, and off we went
First we established the mutual admiration society by talking about how we got to where we were in life: I being the only African American employee at a college where I was in charge of all admissions and financial aid; and he being the only African American millionaire building contractor in Chicago. As the conversation went on, and got into the Christian realm, we started talking about serving others. He told me about how his church, a massive 20,000 member spot in Chicago, gave scholarships to a bunch of kids every year. He said he was tired of giving kids who had a support system extra support, and he had been praying for an opportunity to give some kids who were basically on their own some help... AND... he was willing to use his own money… he just didn’t know where to find the kids since there were none like that in his circle.
I’m thinking, “It couldn’t be this easy. I pray. He prays. God brings us together. Let me keep talking and find out where this thing is heading.”
I told him that if he wanted one, I could find him a kid who needs help in about 3 minutes. He said that wasn’t good enough, he wanted to help a bunch of kids. I said “that could be arranged.” I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said… “What can I get for $30,000?” [Blink... Blink... cough... cough... 30 G's?!?!}] Since most of the kids were short anywhere from $1,500 to $4,500, that gave me a chance to save about ten or so of them. We shook on it. I found the kids and sent him the list. He brought me to a banquet in Chicago where he could give me the check in front of some folks to rub it in their faces. I also got to meet Andrew Young who was the Keynote speaker for the event ,and hang at my new friend’s mini-mansion.
Hanging out with this modest, hard-working new millionaire, I found what he considers to be the secret to his success. He constantly gave away as much of his time and money to others as his schedule would allow. One afternoon, he took me and about 120 Boy Scouts, youth home kids, and others to a football game at $68 dollars per ticket, which included busses for the kids. He likes football, and didn’t want to go alone. He never did anything alone that he could bless some other people by doing it with them. He constantly planted some seeds, and watered others. Every morning, he and his wife got up at about 5:00 and had the prayer-line and counseling line of their church forwarded to their house, where they ministered to people until it was time for them to go to work. Sometimes I listen to people talk about how they question God’s ways, motives, abilities, etc. But he had proven very consistent in how God does things… at least to a layman like me. Meeting this brother and hanging out with him for the next six months showed me so many Biblical principals at work: stewardship, sewing and reaping, do unto others, etc. The only way I could not acknowledge how God works… would be if I had never read The Book. Timing is everything, and God is not only always on the clock, He is The Clock.
Try Him for yourself. Get on THE CLOCK, ‘cause time is ticking away.