Altar Call –
If I can help
Famous missionary David Livingstone once
said, “I am ready to go in any direction – so long as it is forward!” Life’s
difficulties tend to drive us backward. But we can choose to move forward no
matter what. And that is a wise choice as we begin a new year.
What does it mean to move forward? My
answer is found in a song Mahalia Jackson used to sing: “If I can help
somebody, as I travel along, if I can help somebody, with a word or song, if I
can help somebody, from doing wrong, No, my living shall not be in vain.”
That’s the secret: help somebody! Don’t
try to help people; help somebody! Find a person who needs help that you can provide
– and do it! There are hundreds of ways to help somebody; all you have to do is
look around and you will soon see somebody who needs your help.
Across the years I have witnessed people
move forward by helping somebody. I think of Fred. In retirement he helped
several young people obtain an education. He supported more than one
missionary. Fred helped somebody.
John was dean of Vanderbilt Divinity
School when I was a student there. When he sent me a note to come to his
office, I thought I was in trouble. Instead I was blessed. He gave me an
envelope with a twenty-dollar bill inside. He said someone had left it for me.
At that time twenty dollars would buy a week’s supply of groceries. To this day
I believe the money came out of John’s own pocket. John helped somebody.
Charles worked hard at his own job, but
he found the time to help dozens of people find work. He was constantly opening
doors for people who needed a friendly recommendation to an employer. Charles
Paul was a busy pastor but he took an
interest in me. I was serving a circuit of small churches near Shorter,
Alabama. Paul called his friend Newman in Nashville and recommended me for a
job. That phone call made it possible for me to go to seminary. Paul helped
Don is retired but refuses to sit at
home and watch television. He drives across town and helps prepare and serve
food to poor people. Every week Don helps somebody.
Linda is a retired school teacher but
three afternoons a week she tutors English and math to struggling students in a
blighted neighborhood. Linda helps somebody.
Ed loves to read but he does not sit in
his easy chair at home reading novels. He reads about people who have lost a
loved one, sometimes people in another state, and he obtains their address and
sends them a letter of encouragement and a book that will help them cope with
grief. Dozens and dozens of hurting people have benefitted from Ed’s concern.
Ed helps somebody.
I can help somebody. You can. We all
can. Why not? It is a great way to move forward in the new year. Will you help
somebody? + + +