Whereas I was not a great student, I was pretty good with my hands – and my parents did everything they could to build upon this strength.
I think I was 12 (56 years ago!), when, during Christmas vacation, I went to a craft class taught in the basement of the Wheaton College Graduate School. The room was set up to do leather, plaster, cooper tooling, perhaps candles – probably through out the year. The room was not very big; the lighting was not very good.
The bright light for me in that room was Coach Chrouser, who taught the class. Every day he helped perhaps fifteen of us make Christmas gifts for our parents. We could choose what we wanted to make…and he would then work patiently with us.
I vividly remember making two plaster casts of the head of a Cocker Spaniel with which I would make book ends. When I had finished my work, Coach came over and asked if I would like him to help me finish up my project. And he took my plaster casts, already covered with brown paint, and with his magic hands, transformed my crude efforts into beautiful work. On Christmas morning I was incredibly proud of the present I could give to my parents.
Years ago I brought the members of my junior high Sunday school class to my wood working shop and helped each make a beautiful Christmas present of their design for their parents. I remember that Ken built a book shelf; another turned a bowl on the lathe, etc. I was passing on my experience to a few great young people, some of whom were struggling as I had been. The young man who built the book case still lives in our town, is married and has 3 children. Recently Ken came over to help me build a new work bench in my expanded wood shop.
I am sure Coach had no idea of the long term impact that he had – that he would continue to have upon me. (You may read more details of some of this in the months ahead) “Coach” started Honey Rock Camp for Wheaton College – where I was a camper, maintenance worker, counselor, unit leader, waterfront director, and tripping director/assistant camp director. It was for Honey Rock that I earned my American Red Cross Canoeing, Sailing, and Water Safety Instructor certifications. Coach was the head football coach at Wheaton College when I played on their undefeated football team. After I injured my back and we knew I should not play football again, Coach asked me to become the head cook for the two week football/cross country/soccer camp – and I was asked back the next year!
Apart from Sally Jo, and my mom and dad, Coach Chrouser was the person who has had the greatest impact upon my life.
We do not need to seek opportunities through which we can share interests, encourage, and perhaps in time, disciple and mentor. As we seek to Live in Partnership With God, He is bringing these people into our lives. The challenge is to take the time to be God’s instruments of change.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” — Matthew 25:40