What Do You and a Skid Row Bum Have in Common?


August, 2001

Dear Ministry Friends,

There is a true story of a Baltimore "Skid Row bum" who had really hit rock-bottom. He was usually penniless, and had lived on the streets for a long time. What little money that ever came into his hands was usually spent for alcohol. Then one day in December, the man happened to find a significant amount of cash which apparently had been dropped by a careless person. the down-and-out man was amazed at his good fortune, and immediately began thinking about what he would do with the money. He decided that he would buy several of his fellow "Skid Row" friends each a bottle of wine to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

As he was making his way down the streets toward the liquor dealer, he passed by a sporting goods store that had a high quality baseball bat in the window on display. He stopped in his tracks as he remembered how badly he had always wanted a baseball bat like that when he was a kid. His family had never had the money, and he had longingly watched the luckier kids who had their very own bat and glove.

He thought about the money in his pocket, and looked back up at the shiny baseball bat in the window. Then he knew what he wanted to do. He hurried into the store, and spent all that he had buying that bat. Then he headed out of the store in the direction of St. Mary's "home for boys" [as it was known].

As he approached the building, he slowed down trying to make sure no one noticed him. He walked quietly up to the gate, leaned the bat against the front door, banged the door-knocked a few times, and then headed off into the busy pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk hoping no one saw him. He trusted that Brother Matthias would give the bat to some deserving orphan for Christmas.

And Brother Matthias saw to it that the bat was given to a young boy named George who had come there to live at age 7. George showed some athletic ability, and everyone knew he needed the encouragement. And did he ever take to that bat! George played baseball enthusiastically at St. Mary's with that bat, and began to get really good. He got so good, that within 10 years he was playing on the Baltimore Orioles major league baseball team! George's poverty was a thing of the past now, for he became one of the greatest home run hitters in American history. His full name? George Herman Ruth, known affectionately from his St. Mary's time as "the Babe." his single season home run record stood for over 30 years, and his lifetime home run record stood almost 40 years.

What would have been the outcome if the "Skid Row bum" had decided to be selfish and had spent all his money on himself? Who knows what would have happened to the kid named George. Instead of becoming Babe Ruth, would he have become just another juvenile "gone bad"? It is my speculation, but I believe the prison population would have eventually had one more angry young man added to it. Many of the life-changing events that have altered the course of an individual have come from the hands of a single, selfless person who made a difference by caring in some "small" way.

The amazing thing is that we all have the potential to alter the course of the lives around us every day — in a good direction or a bad direction. The choices with our words, actions, and giving are affecting people for eternity all the time. The "Skid Row bum" — and you and I — all have the potential to make a difference in a positive way. The "seeds" that we plant with our words, actions, and finances all have the ability to produce an "oak tree" — perhaps a Babe Ruth. Or perhaps a Hudson Taylor, a D.L. Moody, a Billy Graham, a Mother Teresa, or another man or woman of God to impact a generation of men and women.

If we think one person can't make a difference — then we have never read the Bible! In fact, how many committees are famous for having made a difference for God?

God gives us information in His Word that can help us change people's lives. And He has given up opportunities in abundance. The "harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." People need to get a vision for ministering to others. Eternal lives are at stake. Based on a Moody press book titled This Blue Planet, about 500,000 people die every day world-wide. With less than one-third of those people being born-again, that means over 13,000 people are dying and going to Hell every hour. So during an average eight hour work day, 100,000 people went to Hell for eternity.

God has shown me principles for successful ministry that every person can apply (whether or not you are called to full-time ministry). I made this into an eight-tape teaching series that I have called, How to Start, Survive, an Succeed in Ministry. Some of the individual audio cassette tape titles include: Getting Started in Ministry, Overcoming the Challenges of Ministry, Dealing With Disappointment and Burnout, How to Increase Your Anointing, Principles of Guidance in Ministry, and Spiritual Warfare in Ministry.

Regardless of whether you simply want to be involved in God's work, or perhaps feel called to full-time ministry of God's Word, this teaching series could be a real help to you. It could assist you in making a difference for Jesus in this earth — both immediately and over the rest of your life.

Ministering for Jesus,

Dale Leander


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REPRODUCTION AGREEMENT: Paper duplication or electronic forwarding of this teaching is permitted for non-commercial purposes provided that the complete message and contact information for Words of Life is included. Thank you. Copyright 2002 - 2006, Dale W. Leander.

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