“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, the Country Preacher Dad
When you teach middle school kids, some days they act so goofy you just want to throw in the towel. But other times they do something so wonderful that you remember it for the rest of your life. This is the story of one of those very good times.
One morning, about 15 years ago, I was standing hall duty with my dear friend and mentor, Mrs. Marian Sistrunk. Our early morning visiting was interrupted by Eric, a young student who was born with Down Syndrome. Instead of being his usual neat and happy self, his hair was disheveled and he was sobbing uncontrollably. Marian said, “Eric, my goodness! What in the world is wrong!”
Between sobs and gasping for breath, Eric explained. “Two,” he said. He held up two fingers. “One, Wheatie.” He held up his index finger.
After some repetition and some thinking, Marian and I pieced together what Eric was trying to tell us. Two boys had teased him on the school bus. They had hit him and roughed him up and made him cry. One of the boys was called “Wheatie”.
A few minutes later, from across the hall, I could hear Mrs. Sistrunk lecturing her class of 5th graders. She said, “Boys and girls, Eric is a very special person at our school and we all love him. He never hurts anyone, and he is always good. Under no circumstances will anyone ever mistreat Eric!”
Then I witnessed something I’ve never seen before or since. News of Eric’s mistreatment traveled down the hall, and a tide of righteous indignation traveled with it from classroom to classroom. The students were furious. The thing was torn. The fertilizer had slapped the whirling blades. The wheels had come off. The children were knitted together by anger to fight a holy crusade. The innocent had been wronged, the guilty were going to pay, and Eric was never going to be mistreated again.
And that, my friends, is exactly what happened. Little kids spoke with the offenders and told them that everybody loved Eric at Lake Middle School, and that he was not to be mistreated. Older children pointed out to the bullies just how lame it is to pick on someone who can’t defend himself. A group of boys in the 8th grade (the kind who are already 6 feet and 185 pounds) had a friendly meeting with Wheatie and suggested that, if the duo ever wanted to beat up somebody again, to come and pick on them. And that fixed it. The two never bothered Eric again. What is better, as far as I know, nobody ever bothered Eric again.
The prophet Isaiah gives us some tall orders in today’s text. “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Dear mamas, remember this week that Christianity is a religion of peace, but it is not always peaceful.
Sometimes doing God’s will involves fighting—especially when we are fighting for those who cannot help themselves. Look around this week. See who needs your help. Then “fight the good fight of the faith” on their behalf!
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” *Sing that title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Susan always brings our birthday cakes, made by Eric’s mama). You should write him at email@example.com.