This past week at Grandparents Day I had the privilege to share a story. This story breaks through my tough exterior developed in my years growing up in the tough suburbs of a Detroit. I hope you enjoy it.I am fortunately from a multi-generational Christian family. It wasn’t until well into my adulthood did I appreciate this to its fullest. My family, not unlike every other, had some unsavory folks in its tree. But, overall from the Huguenot’s in France to the church builders of today, a significant amount of my family is involved in ministry. This history is so important. For this and other reasons I am compelled to share this story that I have come to know better.Just recently I was copied on a chapter of an upcoming book about a missionary’s life. In this chapter it discussed how paternal and maternal grandparents in addition to two of their friends chartered a church in the expanding urban suburbs of Detroit in its heyday. I learned that they sold their home in the very
upscale island of Grosse Isle and moved to the outer fast growing suburbs to help build a church with the proceeds from the sale. From this church start these grandmothers and grandfathers alongside of their best friend would go visit and welcome sharecroppers and recent arrivals looking for the rare job in 1941 to the community and invite them to come to this fledgling congregation. On one of these evangelistic outreaches the grandmother and her best friend met a young lady who was living in a home with a dirt floor fashioned out of an old chicken coop within a neighborhood that shared an outhouse and had no running water. The situation was tough. The mother was abusive and the father was an abusive alcoholic with much more to come to light later in life.
This girl’s name was Fran. Considering her circumstances, Fran had little prospects but follow in the footsteps of her mother’s poor choices. Without the supernatural changes the Gospel provides, Fran would be another poor lost soul. Fran, by her own account was a crusty, dirty, and very naughty young girl who was more street smart than any 12 year old should be, but for some reason Zaida was determined to reach this young girl. Zaida had her daughter who was the same age as Fran. Zaida would have her bring Fran home from school since they were in the same classroom and lived so close to the school. She fed her, made her shower, and shared the gospel with her. Soon her sister and brother followed suit. The one requirement was that they went to church on Sunday and the youth group of this new church. Zaida and her friends knew that this young girl had value and potential and that perhaps this intervention would not only change her life, but that of her family.
Fran grew to be an amazing young lady who understood that the Gospel changes everything. She felt the calling to be a missionary. She left to go to a mission board and training facility in Missouri, but in those days a single woman could not be a missionary on her own. They would not let her serve where she knew God was calling her. So, she left the missionary organization to forge a path on her own. That strength of determination and feisty-ness she learned as a child would serve her well.
Through a foundation set up in the 1950’s, Fran became a missionary in Mexico. She went to the Universidad de Saltillo, in Saltillo Mexico to learn her trade and secure a nursing degree. While achieving a bachelor’s degree in nursing in Spanish, while not knowing Spanish or anyone in Mexico, she befriended a single woman pediatric doctor who worked and taught at the university hospital. This woman would become a life-long friend, support, ministry partner, and sister.
Together Chalita (/Cha-lee-taa/), the pediatrician, and Fran established clinics in some of the poorest outlying villages all while maintaining their positions in the University health system. Fran rose to be the lead nurse at the hospital, she met dignitaries and had been requested specifically by a few governors.
When Fran and Chalita passed away a year ago this week, Chalita posthumously received an award from the state of Coahuila (/kwa-wee-la/) Mexico for her significant impact on the poor and needy through the decades of service. Fran who was living in Texas for her latter years worked at Rio Grande Bible Institute continuing her work with the poor and needy and incarcerated. Thousands have written, called and given testament to the impact that she has made.
The part of the story that makes me so emotional is that Fran is as much of an aunt to me as my father’s sister. You see, that was my grandmother, Zaida Louise Stanton who knew the gospel changes. I would spend many summers and holidays with Fran. The countless people changed in the villages, suburban Detroit, and in my family is because of the legacy my grandparents, their friends, and others leave. This is because of a grandparent who knew a legacy of a Christian education and charity was essential to the success. This grandparent knew that the Gospel changes everything. It surpasses the squalor of poverty and the socio-economic status label someone holds. It surpasses the hardship of giving up a home that was worked so hard to achieve. It surpasses the fear and anxiety of living in a strange place and seemingly all alone. This gospel changes everything.
This is my legacy of which I am the most pleased to share – How unsavory became delightful because of the Gospel. Thousands of lives impacted because of the commitment to follow the calling of God. Of course, I miss these people greatly, but what brings my emotions to the surface and moves me to tears is that they used their lives for what they were intended. They sacrificed so the Gospel was spread.
I ask that you come alongside of us and help us make an impact. We are a thriving Christian school in a region and a time that sees Christian schools closed or on the precipice of extinction. We need your help. We need you to impact the lives here at SCS.
I ask that you consider financially sacrificing so that we can complete the renovations, continue with our next project to renovate the gymnasium floor, walls, stage upgrades and bleachers so that our students can have the proper and safe equipment needed to flourish. I have a donor who specifically asked me to challenge you to meet their $50,0000 pledge before the year’s end.
Not everyone can afford to donate. However, you can pray for us. You can come in as an aid in the elementary classroom in the mornings, you can help monitor recess or lunch. You can download our school app on your android or apple smartphone. Or, if you have a great idea, then let us know. We want you to be involved and pass on the legacy of the Gospel from generation to generation. Help us develop students who love God with all their minds, bodies, and souls.