One Sunday morning, when I got to church, I found ‘Thank You’ cards in the pews.  It was not long before our pastor explained why the ‘Thank You’ cards had been set out for us.

Our pastor spoke about how people can make a difference in the lives of other people without knowing they did so.  At the end of the sermon, he asked that we fill out a ‘Thank You’ card for as many people in the church who had made a difference in our lives.  We left the cards on the pews for the church to deliver.

I was surprised to receive 3 cards in the mail because I never really thought I made any kind of a difference in anyone else’s life.  The ones who received a card from me expressed much the same sentiment.  Of course, none of us really made a difference in each other’s lives.  To determine something like that takes more than 5 minutes of thought while sitting in a pew.

BUT ~ That little exercise made me think about who in my ‘whole life’ had made a real difference.  I don’t mean who made me feel good or who was extra nice to me ~ but WHO REALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE?

I thought of people who may have made a real difference – many people made a difference, but who made a REALLY IMPORTANT DIFFERENCE AND MAY NOT KNOW WHAT THEY DID FOR ME?  I prayed about it.  Then, it came to me.  There are two people who made the most profound difference in my life.  Both were in my life at the same time.  The first one is my 8th grade teacher.  Academically, it was like I slept through school ~ until 8th grade.  Johnny Mack Kinsaul was my 8th grade homeroom teacher and he taught my English and History classes as well.  Mr. Kinsaul was also the Mayor of my small hometown. He had a presence that stood out, yet he was a humble man.  I can’t tell you exactly what he did except to say that he drew me out of myself.  I thought I was dumb.  I had no idea that I could actually make good grades and not my usual ‘pass-by-the-skin-of-my-teeth’ grades.  Mr. Kinsaul saw something in me and gently drew it out.  It was like I awoke from a long, long nap ~ academically.  I was AWAKE and HUNGRY to learn.  I did, indeed, turn into an honor student ~ from 8th grade thru college.  And, whatever it was that he instilled in me has stayed with me through my life.

The second person was Opal Wolff ~ a not so close neighbor and an elementary school teacher.  Mrs. Wolff visited our home and asked permission to take my sisters and me to church each Sunday.  Since her husband’s family owned a dairy farm and my Dad hauled milk, my Mom assumed Dad had arranged the visit.  Mom didn’t drive and Dad worked long hours as a truck driver.  Permission was granted and Mrs. Wolff picked us up for church for the next 5 years ~ rain or shine ~ she was there. 

So ~ just who do you think was my 8th grade Sunday School teacher?  Yep ~ you guessed it ~ Johnny Mack Kinsaul!!!  Mr. Kinsaul gently led me in spiritual growth on Sundays, as he led me academically on weekdays.

Because of these two people in my life, I became a Christian and a good student in school.  These two people made a REAL DIFFERENCE in my life!

After thinking about them and the difference they made, I obtained the home addresses for Mr. Kinsaul and Mrs. Wolff.  I wrote both of them letters to tell them how my life had been since school days and the difference that they each made in my life.  I was in my 50’s when I did that ~ both of them well advanced in years, but still alive!  I sent the letters with lovely ‘Thank You’ cards.  Within a couple of weeks, I heard back from each of them.  Neither of them knew that they had made such a profound difference in my life.  Each was pleased to hear from me and more so that I was a better person for their actions so many years ago.  I am glad I told them.

It was a mystery in my family how a neighboring teacher happened to come to our house to ask Mom if she could drive my sisters and me to church on Sundays.  Mom thought Dad arranged the visit.  Dad thought Mom got in touch with her.  All these years later, I think it was my 8th grade teacher who saw something in me that needed fixing and arranged it all.  May God always bless Johnny Mack Kinsaul and Opal Wolff. 

Have there been one or more persons who made a REAL DIFFERENCE in your life?  If so, no matter how long ago, I would encourage you to contact them and tell them.  I am glad I did.

I know I am not an angel, but a scripture comes to mind here~

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.  Hebrews 13:1-2

What might these two people have instilled in me that may have caused me to reach out to another?  I hope that I might have also made a difference in someone’s life.


Buck   Buck wrote
on 2/14/2009 12:32:51 AM
Sometimes, unknowingly to us, we are an angel to others... Great write, very encouraging

SapphireCat   SapphireCat wrote
on 2/12/2009 10:39:45 AM
I had a sunday school teacher that was a marvelous influence on my life as well. Just last week I almost went up to her in church and told her, but for some reason I didn't. It's funny how I always took it for granted that she knew how much she impacted me, but reading this has inspired me to talk to her really soon. Great work, dmcorl!

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