Years ago, I received a very interesting letter from Harry. Harry was a first year student at Princeton Theological Seminary. He and his wife had a young son they adopted from South America. Harry retired from the United States Marine Corps and felt God's call to the ministry. Harry was Colonel in charge of some 1500 Marines at Parris Island. Since I was his liaison with Presbytery's Committee of Preparation for Ministry, Harry invited me to his retirement parade at Parris Island. It was quite impressive. I see now why the Marines so often lead our Armed Forces into battle.
Later on, Harry wrote to tell me that he had just finished his first semester at Princeton Seminary with a 3.7 GPA - however he was not returning for a second semester. He had been offered an opportunity for ministry that he could not turn down. He was leaving Princeton Seminary to accept the position of assistant principal at a high school in Brooklyn where he would start and run a Junior ROTC program. This program helps build self-esteem in teenagers and encourages them to stay in school and out of trouble.
The school had about 1,500 students, 80% African American, 17% Hispanic (Harry speaks fluent Spanish. It had a reputation as the toughest school in the NewYork City school system with the precinct boasting the highest crime rate in the nation! Harry wrote, "I believe that a congregation of this many, with so many needs, would take years for me to achieve as an ordained minister and this need is real and immediate. After much prayer and reflection, I have decided that this is the direction that God is leading me."
Isn't that something?! The guy was a crusader! I knew that about him. The man was on a mission! He was following the Lord. "This has not been an easy decision to make," wrote Harry, "but I believe that coming to Princeton was important as part of God's plan for me, but was not my ultimate destination."
Funny thing sometimes about the providence of God... It takes us one place in order to lead us to the next. Say a prayer for my friend Harry. Say a prayer for the students with whom he works. They are in for the time of their lives.