Looking for a miracle


Looking for a miracle
I was not looking for a miracle, but one happened at a toll booth. 
Heading North on Tri-State 294 Milwaukee March 19, my hand extended toward the cashier with $2 in hand to pay the $1.50 toll.  “Receipt please,” I requested.  She waved me on through.  According to the cashier, the driver ahead of me paid my toll.  Surprised and startled, I said thanks for the unexpected gift and miracle that brightened my day.  Never would I have to pay it back to the one who paid for me.  However, I can choose to pay it forward for someone else. 
On Palm Sunday, I preached at Sherman UMC in Evanston.  Sherman UMC has the distinction of being “the first and only church named for a woman and an African American, as well as being the only historically prominent African American United Methodist congregation on the North Shore.” 
This church founded by Lula B. Sherman performed a miracle in my life in 1968.  God and public transportation brought me to Evanston.  A 19-hour bus ride by Greyhound brought me to Chicago.  A cab ride transported me to the train bound for Evanston.  Arriving at 1200 Davis Street, I caught a cab to Garrett.
I registered for class undergirded by scholarship support from those I never knew. Subsequently, Garrett assigned me to a room in Loder Hall. Thus, I began my journey in a strange land, away from family, friends, and familiar connections.
A week after entering this strange land, Herb Martin, student pastor of Sherman, invited me to worship.  In Sherman, I found a new church home, support and work under the leadership of a classmate.  Sherman and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary became two unexpected miracles in my life.  I can’t pay them back but I can pay it forward.                                    
At the June 8-11 Annual Conference of IGRC, I’m LOOKING FOR A MIRACLE.  One million dollars will educate EIGHT STUDENTS ANNUALLY at Africa University till Jesus comes.  Completing this drive for the Africa University Scholarship Endowment Fund is paramount.  Only three months are left to achieve our goal. 
Some would say, “Bishop, Go find some rich man or woman to give us the rest of the money.”  Clearly, that is one way to get it done.  And if God led some rich person to drop $516, 800, I would gladly accept the gift and acknowledge it if that was their desire.  However, one rich man or woman did not make a commitment to raise $1 million for the Africa University Scholarship Endowment Fund, WE did. 
Every church and pastor has tons of people who have been gifted with scholarships by people they will never know or meet.  Paying them back is not necessary.  Paying it forward for others makes sense.  When every church submits its fair share, our goal will be achieved.
If we are still short of $1 million, I will stand on the conference floor and ask every member and church of the Annual Conference to join me in going the second and third mile to complete our $1 million goal.  I can imagine the joy and unbelievable moment that will overwhelm devoted and committed African students and their families who show up at Africa University for an education and learn that scholarships are available to help them get an education for the transformation of the world. 
And when they ask who performed this miracle; who did this thing?  May the word of cashier at the toll booth gladden their day with some good news. United Methodists who graduated ahead of you paid the toll.  Go and do likewise.
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton