March 29th 2013
"Stay in the city until you've been clothed with the power from on high..." Luke 24:49
Occasionally our lives cross paths with a truly extraordinary person. Their mere presence radiates a kind of light and aura, leaving us better and bigger people. Their words--although sometimes few--linger with us like a welcomed friend. Their actions remind us of the kind of people we long to become.
So when I heard the story of Millie Gordon on NPR tonight, I felt I was given a gift at the end of a long, hard day at work. I needed to be reminded that there are saints still at work in the world. Millie, it seems to me, is the kind of person that leaves everyone in her ake a little more like God intended each of us to be.
"You've got to treat each one like they are your grandchildren," confessed this 86 year old music teacher. "Everyone in my choir has done something bad in their life. Some have murdered, some have committed robbery, some have raped...but I treat them all like they're my grandchildren." That's what makes Millie so extraordinary.
Trained as a musician at Julliard, Millie has been teaching prisoners for the passed 30 years. "After my husband left me, I had a dream," revealed Millie in the interview. "In the dream I saw young men reaching through cell bars with their arms. When I woke up I remembered a conversation I had two years earlier.
Someone had offered me a position to teach music to prisoners. I flatly turned them down." Millie found the number, called the individual. To her surprise, the position was still available. Three decades later she's the most popular staff worker at the correctional facility.
Ironically there is only one reserved parking spot at the prison where Millie works. It's not for the warden, or the CFO. It's for Millie, the woman who spreads love, and passes out an endless supply of Butter Scotch candies to her pupils.
"I remind my pupils that they are blessed to be in prison and that God has given them a second chance. They could be dead, but God has allowed them to come to prison because God has something special for them to do with their lives." So as Millie teaches her young men another verse of "What A Friend We Have in Jesus," they receive her message of hope, purpose and new life because of the one who carries the message embodies the message.
What creates the Millie's of the world? What gives an 86 year old woman respect and authority among some of the nation's hardest criminals? What gives this woman the capacity to love difficult people year after year? What makes a frail, tiny, grandmother "indispensable" to a warden? It's got to be God. It's got to be the fact that this resurrection event is alive and still clothing people with the "....power from on high."
Dr. Bruce Main