Thursday, December 01, 2016

GRACE LINKS - Eleanor Shepherd

The darling little girl from Kenya, being held by my friend from Canada in a picture in our denominational magazine got me thinking. Her name was Belinda.  The accompanying article told the story of how in a slum in Nairobi, considered the largest and poorest one in Africa, this sick and malnourished little waif came to the attention of the visiting Salvation Army pastor.  Arrangements were made to link her to the school where she could get two meals a day and now she appears healthy and alert.

I wondered.  How often does it happen? Do the contributions that we make for sponsorship of children living in poverty, particularly in less economically developed parts of the world really make a difference?

Then a friend from our own congregation shared his story with me.  My eyes filled with tears as he told me how with the support of his loving family, that had not had the same opportunities, he was able to pursue an education that led him to earning a PhD.  I had no idea when I met him and learned that he was a lecturer at a prestigious university here in town that he had such humble roots.

What is so beautiful is that my friend gives the credit for his success in life to the opportunities that were his because sponsorships were in place and people from my country gave donations so that children like him could go to school.  He values the gift of education he was given and he worked hard to maximize the investment that was made. 

Mulry was a good student who worked hard in The Salvation Army school, where he was sponsored until the second year of secondary school.  The music that he learned at the local Salvation Army congregation in his country also played a significant role in his life and education. When I visited Haiti, I met one of his teachers who years later was still offering musical instruction, despite his physical handicaps that never kept him from investing in the lives of others.

When his bursary from the French government ran out while Mulry was doing supplementary  studies in law in  Martinique, he paid for his schooling and made his livelihood there, using the musical skills that he had been taught at The Salvation Army in Haiti to teach and to enrich the lives of others. 

Not only has Mulry passed on what he was given, he also found a unique way to pay back his benefactors. Several years ago, he and his wife came to Canada to do further studies.  They then went through all the necessary hoops to be able to qualify to use the skills they had taken years to learn to apply them to the Canadian context. 

Today Mulry is teaching to the next generation of jurists his specialty, International and Human Rights Law and he is thus contributing to the lives of those who contributed to his life by giving him the gift of education.  In gratitude to The Salvation Army for the gift of music making, he has undertaken the responsibility of assistant conductor of The Salvation Army band in Montreal.  In addition, he is involved in the Haitian community and now sponsors children who would otherwise be deprived of educational opportunities.

Like a golden chain, the links of loving and caring stretch from one country to another, from one caring person to another. From Canada to Haiti to Martinique to France and circling back to Haiti and to Canada again they stretch.  They demonstrate grace in action.  Those who receive God’s blessings and favour with gratitude from others find ways to pass them on and the grace just keeps on flowing.

Seeing this cycle makes me ask, what God has in store for Belinda.  Perhaps my grandchildren or great- grandchildren will benefit from the kindness that has been shown to her as she learns to share the kindness she receives.   My prayer is that she will continue to add her own links to the chain of grace that links us together.

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award


Glynis said...

What a beautiful picture you paint of donations at work, Eleanor. Thank you. I often wonder about this and it is heartbreaking to see all the ads on TV and in magazines. I just want to help everyone. But how do we do that? And then I know people in my own 'back yard' who have needs. How does one really decide where to put the coffers?
What a joy it was to read this story about Mulry - AND to hear how he gives back.

Thanks, for this great post, Eleanor. Blessings.

Peter Black said...

Eleanor, thank you for sharing this inspiring account of investments made in needy lives that have brought forth wonderful fruit -- fruit that continues to multiply to bless others. Mulry's story is a wonderful example of the grace of giving that continues to give. ~~+~~

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