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Gave his life to save another

Jeff Leeland had just accepted a teaching position at Kamiakin Junior High in Seattle, Washington. The family had endured months of Dad's driving to and from work before the family could relocate from their previous home.

As winter struggled toward spring in 1992, Jeff and Kristi heard the devastating news: "Your baby boy has cancer. Michael needs a bone marrow transplant." The good news was that Michael's six-year-old sister, Amy, was a perfect match for the transplant. But Jeff's insurance company wouldn't pay for it. A tiny clause in the contract coldly stated that Jeff had to be on the job for at least a year before they would cover a transplant. He had only been teaching in the new job for six months.

By March, Michael's need for a transplant became urgent. If he couldn't receive the new marrow soon, his illness would progress quickly, and he would die. The Leelands needed to raise an impossible sum of $200,000 by May.

Fellow teacher Joe Kennedy told his class about Mr. Leeland's situation. Dameon, a seventh grade boy who walked with a limp and struggled in special education classes, heard about Mr. Leeland's son, Michael, and made a visit to Jeff's house.

"Mr. Leeland, don't make a big deal out of this�if your baby's in trouble, I want to help out." Dameon, the kid others teased, reached out his hand and stuffed 12 five-dollar bills into the hand of a teacher who had made a difference in his life. It was the boy's life savings.

Word got out about "Dameon's gift." Some kids organized a walk-a-thon. Others contacted a local newspaper. Others held a car wash. "Teenagers," Jeff says, "are pre-adults in limbo-land, waiting around for something important to do." Michael became important.

The Kamiakin kids' wave of compassion poured out across Seattle. On Friday, May 22nd, a man walked into the bank with a check for ten thousand dollars. One week after Dameon's gift, Michael's fund grew to $16,000. By late May, area TV stations picked up the story. The response from the news stories was overwhelming. By May 29th, Michael's fund grew to $62,000. The Leelands were boosted with hope when the hospital moved Michael's transplant back by two weeks.

On Friday, June 5th, the fund had grown to $143,000. Monday, June 8th: $160,000. Tuesday, June 9th: $185,000. When a TV news broadcast pronounced victory for Michael, the Kamiakin Junior High kids went crazy with happiness. Only four weeks after Dameon's gift of $60, the Michael Leeland Fund totaled over $220,000.

Michael got the marrow transplant. He lived. Dameon, the boy who gave sacrificially so another could live, accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior after becoming close with Michael's family. Having struggled for years with physical problems of his own, Dameon died from complications after he got an infection in one of his legs.

Michael Leeland lives on to tell Dameon's story. Dameon, the unlikely hero, gave his all to save the life of another. And in the process, he received life everlasting.

Preaching Today

Compassion can make a difference

On April 6, 2000, Ricky and Toni Sexton were taken hostage inside their Wytheville, Virginia, home by a fugitive couple on a crime spree. Toni had taken her poodle outside when Dennis Lewis, 37, and Angela Tanner, 20, roared into her driveway, pointed pistols at her, and yelled at her to get back inside the house.

Inside the house, the Sextons turned their hostage experience into an opportunity to demonstrate Christian love. The Sextons listened to their captors' troubles, fed them, showed them gospel videos, read to them from the Bible, and prayed and cried with them.

During negotiations with the police, Ricky Sexton refused his own release when Lewis and Tanner suggested that they might end the standoff by committing suicide. The standoff had an unusual ending. Before surrendering to the police, Angela Tanner left $135 and a note for the Sextons that read: "Thank you for your hospitality. We really appreciate it. I hope he gets better. Wish all luck & love. Please accept this. It really is all we have to offer. Love, Angela and Dennis."

Followers of Jesus should never forget the disarming power of Christian love.

Preaching Today

Knowing compassion and showing
compassion are two different things


A Greek class was given an assignment to study the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. These young theologians were to do an in-depth analysis of the biblical text, observing and commenting on all the major terms and syntactical factors worth mentioning. Each student was to write his own translation after having done the work on his commentary.

As is true in most language classes, a couple or three of the students cared more about the practical implications of the assignment than its intellectual stimulation. The morning the work was to be turned in, these three teamed up and carried out a plan to prove their point. One volunteered to play the part of an alleged victim. They tore his shirt and trousers, rubbed mud, catsup, and other realistic-looking ingredients across his "wounds," marked up his eyes and face so he hardly resembled himself, then placed him along the path that led from the dormitory to the Greek classroom. While the other two hid and watched, he groaned and writhed, simulating great pain.

Not one student stopped. They walked around him, stepped over him, and said different things to him. But nobody stooped over to help. What do you want to bet their academic work was flawless…and insightful…and handed in on time?

This incident always reminds me of a Scripture that penetrates the surface of our intellectual concerns. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:16-17).

The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 105.


Son needed compassion

The phone rang in a high society Boston home. On the other end of the line was a son who had just returned from Viet Nam and was calling from California. His folks were the cocktail-circuit, party kind--drinking, wife swapping, gambling, all the other things that go with it. The boy said to his mother, "I just called to tell you that I wanted to bring a buddy home with me." His mother said, "Sure, bring him along for a few days." "But, mother, there is something you need to know about this boy. One leg is gone, one arm's gone, one eye's gone, and his face is quite disfigured. Is it all right if I bring him home?"

His mother said, "Bring him home for a few days." The son said, "You didn't understand me, mother. I want to bring him home to live with us." The mother began to make all kinds of excuses about embarrassment and what people would think…and the phone clicked.

A few hours later the police called from California to Boston. The mother picked up the phone again. The police sergeant at the other end said, "We just found a boy with one arm, one leg, one eye and a mangled face, who has just killed himself with a shot in the head. The identification papers on the body say he is your son."

The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 109.


Ronald Reagan showed compassion

Peggy Noonan, speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, relates a story about Frances Green, an eighty-three-year old woman who lived by herself on Social Security in a town just outside San Francisco. She had little money, but for eight years she'd been sending one dollar a year to the Republican National Convention.

Then one day Frances got an RNC fund-raising letter in the mail, a beautiful piece on thick, cream-colored paper with black-and-gold lettering. It invited the recipient to come to the White House to meet President Ronald Reagan. She never noticed the little RSVP card that suggested a positive reply needed to be accompanied by a generous donation. She thought she'd been invited because they appreciated her dollar-a-year support.

Frances scraped up every cent she had and took a four-day train ride across America. Unable to afford a sleeper, she slept sitting up in coach. Finally she arrived at the White House gate: a little elderly woman with white hair, white powder all over her face, white stockings, an old hat with white netting, and an all-white dress, now yellow with age. When she got up to the guard at the gate and gave her name, however, the man frowned, glanced over his official list, and told her that her name wasn't there. She couldn't go in. Frances Green was heartbroken.

A Ford Motor Company executive who was standing in line behind her watched and listened to the little scenario. Realizing something was wrong, he pulled Frances aside and got her story. Then he asked her to return at nine o'clock the next morning and meet him there. She agreed. In the meantime, he made contact with Anne Higgins, a presidential aide, and got a clearance to give her a tour of the White House and introduce her to the president. Reagan agreed to see her, "of course."

The next day was anything but calm and easy at the White House. Ed Meese had just resigned. There had been a military uprising abroad. Reagan was in and out of high-level secret sessions. But Frances Green showed up at nine o'clock, full of expectation and enthusiasm.

The executive met her, gave her a wonderful tour of the White House, then quietly led her by the Oval Office, thinking maybe, at best, she might get a quick glimpse of the president on her way out. Members of the National Security Council came out. High-ranking generals were coming and going. In the midst of all the hubbub, President Reagan glanced out and saw Frances Green. With a smile, he gestured her into his office.

As she entered, he rose from his desk and called out, "Frances! Those darn computers, they fouled up again! If I'd known you were coming I would have come out there to get you myself." He then invited her to sit down, and they talked leisurely about California, her town, her life and family.

The president of the United States gave Frances Green a lot of time that day--more time than he had. Some would say it was time wasted. But those who say that didn't know Ronald Reagan. He knew this woman had nothing to give him, but she needed something he could give her. And so he (as well as the Ford executive) took time to be kind and compassionate.

The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, pp. 113-114.