As I read a blog by Paul Phillips ( @paulphil ) entitled Sic Transit Gloria (Thus Passes Glory) I found myself reflecting about the impact we make when we simply faithfully follow Christ in our every day life. The thing is, though we seldom realize it, our action or inaction today can make an impact on future generations. As someone who loves to read biographies and testimonies, over the years I have learned from and been blessed by experiences others have shared.
Almost 20 years ago, I was doing genealogical research on my paternal grandfather who had been an Orphan Train Rider. My research revealed that unlike many of the children, he was not the child of first generation immigrants. He had been brought from Upstate New York to New York City by his parents who had fallen on difficult times and in fact, were living in a county poorhouse with two sick children. When they arrived in NYC, my great-parents reliquished my five year old grandfather and his older half sister to the Children's Aid Society which had been founded by a minister named Charles Loring Brace. Sadly, I discovered that his older sister, Myrtle, died several months later due to complications after a tonsilectomy. My grandfather never knew what happened to his sister.
My grandfather was one of the many children brought to the Midwest by the Rev. Herman D. Clarke who was an agent with the CAS. My research revealed that Rev. Clarke genuinely cared about the children he placed and though they were scattered across the Midwest, it was not unusual for him to make "surprise" visits. That was one of the ways he was assured that the children were being well-cared for and he did not hesitate to immediately remove a child who was being neglected or abused!
He kept up a regular correspondence with the children he placed, even when they reached adulthood and I discovered my grandmother still had some of the letters my grandfather had received. I also learned something else. He made it a point to pray for each child daily but there was something more. His journals indicated he also prayed for their descendants and I am one of those descendants.
As far as I know, my grandfather never came to know Christ but since he was adopted by one of my grandmother's aunts, I do know this. One of the conditions of placement and adoption was that the family must attend church. My family, after arriving from Denmark 40 years before had cut off all affiliation with any church until my grandfather came along. They began to attend church and in one generation, our family history was changed. My grandfather has descendants or married spouses who have been ministers, gone on the mission field, been active in various ministries within or outside of their local church, etc.
It was just a simple prayer and yet it made and continues to make an impact more than 100 years later. I am very thankful that someone prayed for me... even though I was not yet even born.