Back when Margaret and I were in seminary, the major cost was just living. Tuition and books were so inexpensive as to be neglible, if you can believe that. These days, like everything else in our world, nothing comes cheap.
I recall we ran up a big bill at McCune’s drug store around the corner from the seminary. Forty dollars. Seems funny now, but it wasn’t at the time. These days, my one prescription for lipitor costs three times that every month.
Back then, we would periodically receive a check from one of Margaret’s aunts, Winona Franklin of Eutaw, Alabama. It might be five dollars and it might be fifty. Down in the lefthand corner, she would write, “For love.”
I told that story at her funeral a couple of years ago and suggested we could engrave those two words on her tombstone, for everything she did in life was love-driven.
A Sunday School class at Central Baptist Church in Tarrant, Alabama, where I had been on staff for six months prior to seminary sent us monthly checks for a few dollars over the first year until I became pastor of a church near New Orleans. They didn’t write “for love” on them, but they might as well have. We knew.
David grew up in one of my pastorates and he says I led him to Christ, although I have no memory of that. I do recall performing his marriage to Tammy. They later went off to seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he got a masters degree and they began serving churches. Recently, they moved back to campus after a difficult three years in a church they served.
“This is a good time to get a little more education,” David said, and told me the area he would be studying. They have had a hard time finding jobs, so I contacted the church he grew up in, and the pastor sent some financial help. Today, as I write, David e-mailed that he is working part-time in Best Buy and loving it. Tammy is still looking.
Oddly, before turning on the computer this morning, I had them on my heart and had decided the Lord wanted me to forward to them a little of the financial blessings He has sent my way. Then I received Dave’s e-mail note and followed through.
Down in the lower left corner of the check, I wrote “For love.” Aunt Winona would be pleased.
A pastor called a deacon in his church with a request. “We have a fine young ministerial student in our congregation,” he said, “and he’ll be going off to seminary this fall. I wondered if you would be interested in helping him financially.”
The deacon did not hesitate. “I certainly would, pastor, and let me tell you why.”
He explained that some years back, the previous pastor had called him with a similar request. “I turned him down,” he said, “and I came to regret it. That young minister went on to become one of the finest servants of the Lord anywhere. And just think, I could have had a part in his ministry, but missed that opportunity.”
He paused and said, “I promised the Lord if another such opportunity came my way, I would not let this slip through my fingers. I would jump at the chance.”
Do you know anyone in seminary, preparing for the ministry God has called them to? They could use a little encouragement of the financial kind. Later on, after graduation, they’ll find positions in churches or on the mission field and likely have adequate financial support. Right now is when they need it most, when you could do the most good with just a few dollars.
And if you don’t know any such students, I have a suggestion. Send a check to “Student Aid Fund,” Development Office, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 3939 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70126. Ask them to let you know who it helps. They’ll be glad to do so.
It’s a loving thing to do.