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



Toby Keith recorded a popular song recently entitled Whose Your Daddy? Then, even more recently, Pedro Martinez, of the Boston Red Sox,  made a disparaging remark about how he was the New York Yankees' daddy. The New York fans very politely reminded him of his statement when the Red Soxplayed in Yankee Stadium last week. But let me focus your attention on another time this question was asked.

In his book Rising above the Crowd, Brian Harbour tells the story of Ben Hooper. When Ben Hooper was born many years ago in the foothills of East Tennessee, little boys and girls like Ben who were  born  to unwed mothers were ostracized and treated terribly. By the time he was three years old, the other children were not allowed to play with Ben. Parents would say, "What's a boy like that doing playing with our children?" as if the child had anything at all to do with his own birth.

Saturday was the toughest day of all. Ben's mom would take him to the little general store to buy their supplies for the week. Invariably, the other parents in the store would make rude remarks just loudly enough for both mother and child to hear, comments like, "Did you ever figure out who his daddy is?" What a tough, tough childhood. Things only got worse when Ben started school as children and some teachers would question him on who his daddy was.

It was a big deal when anything changed in the foothills of East Tennessee, and when Ben was twelve years old a new preacher came to the little church in Ben's town. Almost immediately, little Ben started hearing exciting things about him — about how loving and nonjudgmental he was. One Sunday, though he had never been to church in his life, little Ben Hooper decided he was going to hear the new preacher. He got there late and he left early because he did not want to attract any attention, but he liked what he heard. For the first time in his life, he caught just a glimmer of hope.

But he was back in church the next Sunday and the next and the next. He always got there late and always left early, but his hope was building each Sunday. On about the sixth or seventh Sunday the message was so moving and exciting that Ben became absolutely enthralled with it. Ben got so wrapped up in the message, he forgot about the time and didn't notice that a number of people had come in after he had taken a seat. Suddenly, the service was over. Ben quickly stood up to leave, but the aisles were clogged with people and he could not run out. As he was working his way through the crowd, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around and looked up, right into the eyes of the new preacher who asked him a question that had been on the mind of every person there for the last twelve years: "Whose your daddy, boy?"

Instantly, the church grew deathly quiet. Slowly, a smile started across the face of the preacher until it broke into a huge grin, and he exclaimed, "Oh! I know whose boy you are! Why, the family resemblance is remarkable. You are a child of God!" And with that the preacher swatted him across the rear and said, "That's quite a heritage you've got there, boy! Now, go and see to it that you live up to it!" Ben Hooper would later become the 27th governor of the state of Tennessee. See Philippians 3:17-21.

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward