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His Name was Ben, MMM 2-7-2011


Monday Morning Message, February 7, 2011

The year was 1963, and I was an eager college freshman at Bowling Green State University.  Going to college was like a vacation for me because I got to leave the farm work behind and embark on a whole new adventure.  Academics were never my strongest suite but within all the A’s, B’s, and an occasional C, I seemed to have done just fine.  My small town rural heritage was about to be tested in ways I could never have imagined.  I greeted all of my roomies in the same enthusiastic way and indicated how much we would do together and have fun.

My three roommates had arrived before I did and they staked out their spots by taking what they thought was the prime spots either in the lower bunks or by the window.  No problem for me as I threw my bedding on the only remaining upper bunks with Ben in the lower bunk.  My few clothes fit just fine in what was left of the closet.  Meal time came and Lloyd and Mike clearly left with no intention of eating with their other roommates.  I asked Ben if he wanted to go and eat and he looked surprised that I would ask.  It still didn’t hit me but we were also alone at our own table at the mess hall. Ben was going to be an accountant and I shared my dreams of being a basketball coach. 

Later that first night I was cornered in the hall of the dorm by two friends of Mike who wondered why I acted friendly toward Ben!  They were more than upset with me when I told them to get out of my way and grow up.  They grabbed me again and told me what can happen to _____ lovers.  Frightened by what had been a perfect day up until then, I reacted as I always had as an athlete and that was to let them know if they harmed me or my new teammate, they underestimated my horror when pushed to far.  My standard line was to indicate they might beat me up but it wouldn’t be worth it for the pain they would receive back from me.  Luckily, most people never tested me far enough to find out!

Ben turned out to be a very good friend that first year of college and I became a sort of body guard for him.  He had just returned from the million man march and heard Martin Luther King in person.  His only reason for needing me as a friend was that he was African American in a different world in 1963.  I like to think our world is better in many ways today, but I know some things take a long time to change. Being a witness doesn’t always take place easily or without risks.  Just being a friend and doing what is right in your daily walk is often all God asks of us.  Welcome to Black History Month.

Luke 17:3-4 (NIV) “… If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times comes back to you and says, I repent, forgive him.”