Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Amazing Power of Love

All the discussion this past week about the solution to school shooting reminded me of a story I read years ago in a little magazine entitled, Bits & Pieces. At the time (in the mid-seventies), I worked in the Church School Literature Department at Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri

According to the piece, a professor at Johns Hopkins University once gave a group of graduate students an assignment to go to the slums and find 200 boys between the ages of 12 and 16, investigate their background and environment, and then predict their chances for the future.

After consulting social statistics, talking to the boys, and compiling much data, the students concluded that 90 percent of those boys would spend some time in jail.

Twenty-five years later, another group of graduate students was given the job of testing the prediction. They went back to the slums and found that some of the boys, now men, were still there, a few had died, and some had moved away, but the students were able to contact 180 of the original 200 boys.

They were amazed to discover that only four of the entire group had ever been sent to jail.

Why was it that these men, who had lived in a breeding place for crime, had such a surprisingly good record? The researchers were continually told, "Well, there was a teacher...."

The researchers pressed further and found that in 75 percent of the cases it was the same woman. The researchers located this teacher, now living in a home for retired teachers.

"How did you exert such a remarkable influence over a group of slum children?" they asked her. "Can you give us any reason why these boys should have remembered you?"

"No, I really can't," she said. Then, thinking back over the years, she mused, more to herself than to her questioners. "I loved those boys...."

O, the amazing power of love!

Those boys had been successful against all odds because of the love of one teacher.

And in life we all can be "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Roman 8:37).

No matter what our circumstances, we can succeed because of the love of Christ. We can conquer sin and death and temptation and whatever challenges we face. We can conquer through Him who loves us!

Yesterday, with the home going of Billy Graham, the news and social media has come alive with tributes to his life and ministry. The love of Christ for each of us, no matter what we've done, no matter our station in life, was the lifelong message of "America's Pastor."

I don't think it is coincidence that Billy Graham was welcomed home to heaven at this time when America so needs to hear his message again. Even in his death he still speaks.

Here is a poem I wrote in 2009. It holds truth for today too:


On river banks no "alabaster cities gleam"
Because on barren shores no Pilgrim Fathers' dream
Resulted in great sweat and toil
To coax food and shelter from the soil
To establish a fledgling colony,
An experiment in democracy.

No Declaration of Independence
That certain rights are granted us by Providence;
No freedom of worship, speech, or press
In our Constitution were addressed;
No struggle for equality;
No wars to tear down tyranny.

No "shining city upon a hill,"
No vision to the world to spill
That man his own dreams can fulfill
For better or worse, for good or ill;
The world without America's ideal
Would certainly have a much darker feel.

Without a Statue of Liberty
To welcome those in poverty,
Without our inventions in technology
And medical aid to the world's society,
The earth without America's grace
Would be a less hospitable place.

Yet we've somehow lost our way,
And now the news reports each day
The rampant greed and shocking strife
And a less gentle way of life,
Of which I want to have no part,
And that surely saddens my heart.

The only solution I know that is real
Is to return to God with a great zeal.
To repent of all our self-centered ways,
And seek His guidance all of our days.
For then He will hear in heaven, and
He'll forgive and heal our beloved land.

© AnnaLee Conti, 2009

Those of us who call ourselves Christians--may we recommit ourselves to sharing the love of Jesus just as Billy Graham did. Christ is the only answer to our problems. Only He can heal our sin-sick souls and restore us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Only He can heal our land.

Let us turn from our wicked ways and humble ourselves and pray.