Back in the late 1920s, my great-grandparents were living in the deep South, near Statesboro, Georgia. My great-grandfather, Grady, said he didn’t want his sons to be sharecroppers, so he packed up the family and moved them to Detroit, Michigan. In 1938, four years after my grandmother was born, my great-grandmother, Gertrude, received an invitation to a tent meeting. She didn’t know what this meeting was about, but she was curious. When she got there she met a pastor and a few other curious souls. It was at this meeting that she discovered the truth about the health message, the Sabbath, and other fundamental Seventh-day Adventist Christian beliefs. After attending a few meetings, Gertrude was baptized and became a vegan.
Grady fussed at Gertrude’s lifestyle and dietary changes, and the kids were split over following their mother’s new beliefs. Gertrude and Grady had eight children—a lot of mouths to feed. Initially, Gertrude would cook the same food for everyone, just in different pots and pans. Vegetarian food in one set, and meat in another set. As the years went by, Gertrude stopped cooking meat all together and told Grady to cook his own meat separately. Grady lived a wild lifestyle. He would drink excessively, smoke, and curse. Gertrude didn’t like the life Grady was living, so she never stopped praying for him. But she was always a good wife to him.
A Life-changing Decision
About two decades later, Grady told his wife, “Gertrude, I’m going to eat like you.” The whole family was surprised. Grady threw out his pots and pans, quit drinking, and gave up smoking. He started attending church with Gertrude every Sabbath and eventually became a deacon. Grady was well-respected in the church, and after some time he became the head deacon. His responsibilities included opening the church doors every Sabbath morning.
People outside of the church noticed Grady’s commitment to serving the Lord. A man who lived down the street from the church would always see Grady opening up the church doors on Sabbath morning. Grady’s seemingly small act of unlocking the church doors inspired that man to live a more dedicated life.
An Inspirational Life
The day came when Grady passed away. The man down the street from the church stopped seeing him open the church doors on time. After about a week of not seeing him, he noticed a funeral at the church, but he didn’t know whose it was. Later, he went to the church and asked, “Whatever happened to the man who used to open the church doors early on Saturday mornings?” The church members told him the sad news of Grady’s passing. The neighbor wept and confessed that he had turned his life around and started being a more dedicated person because of the man who opened up the church faithfully every week. He’d hoped to meet Grady one day and shake his hand.
There are many lessons we can take away from this short story. One of them is our ability to inspire faith in others without even realizing it. Grady didn’t want his boys to be sharecroppers, so he performed an act of courage and moved his family to Michigan. God had a plan. His wife, Gertrude, “happened” to stumble across tent meetings and found the Adventist truth. Gertrude drastically changed her life and started following Christ but didn’t force religion on the rest of the family. She just prayed and lived her life as a witness for Jesus Christ, giving an example of His character.
There’s a children’s song I listened to growing up called, “O Be Careful Little Eyes,” by Cedarmont Kids. The lyrics include such phrases as, “O be careful little eyes what you see,” “O be careful little ears what you hear,” and “O be careful little mind what you think.” What you surround yourself with affects you. Grady was influenced by Gertrude’s lifestyle, diet, and thoughts and decided it would be best to live like she did. He said, “Gertrude, I’m going to eat like you.” This is a witness to the power of prayer and remaining faithful to God.
Last of all, because of his faithful service, Grady unknowingly inspired others outside the church, including the neighbor who used to watch him unlock the church doors.
There’s power in prayer. There’s a time to move forward in faith. And it’s always the right time to let our lives be examples for Christ. You never know who’s watching.