Thursday, April 24, 2008
Never Forget Your Roots
A few days ago a friend in England sent me an email saying that she had located another friend we both knew while growing up in South Africa. She said I should join Facebook. I did, and within 2 days I have been networked all over 5 countries and have emailed or spoken to a bunch of people that I grew up with or went to school with in South Africa. Yesterday I heard from my best friend in High School – we did EVERYTHING together (including getting into a LOT of trouble). We lost track of each other 14 years ago! Back then, if I wanted to be in contact with someone “back home in the old country” I would have to write a letter and go down to the post office, have it weighed for international postage, and 7 days later they would receive the letter. Has the world really changed that much so quickly??
As I have established contact with a lot of people from my past, a lot of memories have flooded over me. I have come a VERY long way in 14 years, and often I come close to forgetting my roots. But trips to South Africa, and news from family and friends remind me of where I came from – and that’s good. I don’t ever want to forget those roots.
When I go through my closet I often look at my suits. I don’t wear them much anymore, but there is one in particular that caught my attention the other day. It's a sharp-looking charcoal Nieman Marcus suit. It's worn out now, but I'll bet it cost $500 new. Twelve years ago I got my first preaching assignment when I knew nothing and had nothing. When I showed up in Dallas at age 19 I had a visitor's visa that expired in 6 months and $230 in my pocket. As a foreign student I was not allowed to work. I had nothing - nada. I would go out to Mexican restaurants with my classmates and order water. While they ate enchiladas I ate the free chips and salsa! Where was I going to get a suit? A member of the Preston Road Church of Christ gave me his Nieman Marcus suit - gave, not loaned. I was so proud of that suit! I wish I could still fit in it. But I'll never give it away or throw it away. It will always be a reminder to me that I am either the luckiest man ever born, or God has smiled on me! Twelve years ago I was a kid from South Africa with no money and no way to earn money. Today I'm an American, I live in a big house, and I preach at a nice church. God has used so many kind people to bless me. I was reminded this week of the life I left and the new life I now lead. I thank God, I thank all those kind people, and I thank Mr. Nieman Marcus for making the best suit in the world!