An Agent of Christ

 

In Tony Campolo's great little book—Who Switched the Price Tagshe tells the story of Teddy Stallard: a troubled kid, with a glassy look and a dull mind; who came to school every day in the same set of filthy clothes and with his hair never combed. 

Miss Thompson was Teddy's teacher in the fifth grade and, every time she spoke to him, all she got were mumbled monosyllables. He was unattractive, dull, unmotivated and distant; just impossible to like. Even though the teacher had always insisted that she loved all her kids the same and treated them equally, deep down inside that just wasn't true. She didn't care for Teddy. 

Whenever she graded Teddy's papers, she felt a twinge of perverse pleasure in putting X's next to all the wrong answers and F's at the top of the page. After all, someone had to wake this boy up and show him he was going nowhere! 

She should have known better. She should have known that it wasn't quite that simple. 

Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents, piled high upon her desk. All the kids crowded around to watch her open them one by one Among the many presents was one from Teddy, surprisingly enough.

Teddy's gift came wrapped in a dirty, brown paper bag and taped with scotch tape. On the outside of the back in crude penciled letters, were the words: "To Miss Thompson, From Teddy". When she opened the bag out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing from it, and half-bottle of cheap perfume. 

The other boys and girls began to giggle and smirk over Teddy's obviously "cheap" gift. But Miss Thompson had at least enough sense to silence them immediately by putting on the bracelet and holding it up to appreciate it. She touched her wrist with the cheap perfume and held it up for the other children to smell "Doesn't it smell lovely?" she asked, and all the other children took her cue and responded with "oohs" and "ahs". 

At the end of the day, when school was over and all the children had left for home, Teddy lingered behind. He slowly came over to her desk and said softly: 

"Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother now. And...her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I'm glad you like my presents."

After Teddy left the room, Miss Thompson just sat there at her desk, stunned for the longest time. Then she went over to the file cabinet and took out Teddy's file. She had not taken the time to read his record from previous years. She did now: 

1st Grade: Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.

2nd Grade: Teddy could do better. He receives little help at home. His mother is seriously ill. 

3rd Grade: Teddy is a good boy, but too serious and a slow learner. His mother died this year.

4th  Grade: Teddy is well behaved but very slow. His father shows no interest. 

After closing the file, Miss Thompson bowed her head and asked God to forgive her. 

The next day, when the children came to school, a new teacher was there behind the desk. Miss Thompson had become a completely different person. She no longer saw herself as just a "teacher"; she was now an agent of Christ, more committed than ever to loving her children and caring for them and helping them any way she could—all of her children; especially the slower ones. 

And, most of all, Teddy Stallard.

By the end of the year, Teddy was showing dramatic improvement. He had caught up with most of the students and was even ahead of a few of them.  

She didn't hear from Teddy for many years after that. But then one day she received a note: 

Dear Miss Thompson: I want you to be the first to know that I will be graduating second in my class this year. 

Love Teddy Stallard.

Four years later, a second note arrived:  
Dear Miss Thompson: They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. College is not easy, but I like it.

 Love, Teddy.

Years later, a third one came: 
Dear Miss Thompson: I am getting married next month, the 27th -to be exact. Can you come? I hope so. I want you to sit where my mother would have sat. My dad died last year. You are the only family I have. 

Love, Dr. Theodore Stallard, MD.

Just two things, dear ones: 
You have no idea what's really going on in the lives of people around you! 

It is impossible to measure the impact you will have on the lives of those who are needy when you give up your petty ambitions and start seeing yourself as an agent of Christ. 

So...go at it, dear faithful OT! You'll see for yourself! 

Love worshipping with you. 

Cya Sunday!                                         RAS

The Man Who Hit Me
A Ragtag Navy