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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



A preacher and a member of the congregation made a house call on a rich man. They were seeking donations for another man who had suffered a heart attack. The sick man had no insurance and could not afford to pay his mounting medical bills.

The rich man greeted the preacher and his companion warmly and listened as the preacher described the desperate plight of the sick man. "We are asking for a generous donation from you," the preacher concluded.

"Who is the sick man?" the host asked.

The preacher shook his head. "Rarely do we ever reveal the names of people in need. In this case, it is most difficult for the man to admit that he needs the charity of others.

"If I am to be of help I insist on knowing the identity of the man in need. I will keep it in strictest of confidence. I was going to give you $500, but if you tell me the man's name I will increase it to $1,000."

"We will not reveal the man's name," the preacher repeated, shaking his head.

"Two thousand dollars, then. Surely you wouldn't refuse that amount."

"I will not break the confidence," the preacher insisted. His companion couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Taking a deep breath, the rich man said, "Ten thousand dollars!"

Before the preacher could respond, his companion pleaded with him, "Preacher, ten thousand dollars will go a long way towards paying for the man's expenses. He is an honorable man. Surely he will keep a secret."

The preacher got up and walked toward the door. "I should have left a long time ago. The trust and honor of a man are not open to the highest bidder, regardless of the sum of money. I have other visits to make. We will get the money elsewhere."

Before the preacher could leave the house, the rich man begged him to meet privately in the next room. The moment they were alone he broke into tears. "Preacher, I recently lost every penny I had saved. I am not able to make even a token payment on my mortgage. I have wanted to go to someone for help, but I couldn't stand the idea of everyone in town knowing that I am a failure."

"Now I understand," the preacher said tenderly. "You were testing me to see if I could be trusted with your secret. I will seek funds for you as well as for the sick man. What you have told me will be kept in the strictest of confidence."

The two men bid farewell to their host and headed off to the place of their next visit. "Well, preacher, "said his companion expectantly, "how much did he give you?"

The preacher smiled and then playfully shook a finger at his friend, "Shame on you. You know such things are a secret."

How much can you be trusted? How well can you keep a secret?

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward