The Gift of Ministry

Reflections after addressing the graduating class of 2019 of French Camp Academy in Mississippi.

It was my privilege to address the graduating class of 2019 of French Camp Academy in Mississippi. They held it outdoors to accommodate the turnout. What an honor for me. The school came into being to help students coming from troubled homes and that mission has continued to this day with that as their primary goal, although many attend from homes not so challenged.

In fact, the reason I was asked and accepted the invitation was because of the tragic deaths of three children in Collierville, Tennessee, on December 23, 2018. They were all students at this school and were on their Christmas break away from their parents in India when a terrible house fire took their lives. It was a story of tragic proportions.

The parents flew in for the graduation because their oldest daughter, Sharon, was to have graduated with this class. So, the mood was somber and the celebration blunted somewhat because they all shared in the grief of this beautiful family. As I left, the parents presented me with a beautiful pearl necklace from the city of Hyderabad which is their home. Hyderabad is known as The City of Pearls. It is also the city at which I preached my first sermon in 1965. When they gave me the pearls, I remarked, "It has become all too common. I go and work and the people send a gift to my wife." It was the one and only time I saw a smile come across the face of the mother. It was worth it to go all the way to see a broken heart break free from brokenness for just a moment.

Only with time and God's strength will healing come for such a devastation. Please keep praying for them. French Camp Academy ministered to me that day. Powerful messages from the students whose cradle was cradled by the grace of God and the love of teachers. They radiated the hope that Jesus alone can give. Amazing stories for each one of them. The Valedictorian delivered a powerful message on the meaning and purpose of life––taken from the book of Ecclesiastes. I spoke on Joseph, "A man for all seasons," who was that, because he had sound reasons for his hope in God.

At times like this, the gift of ministry is sobering but a deep and undeserved privilege. Thank you for your prayers. The young people that I met at French Camp Academy gave me hope for the future. Even in the throes of a huge loss they sounded the victory of our risen Savior. May God be with them and their families.

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