“Would you like to meet and help the Gamu family, a young family comprised of a husband and wife, with three children under the age of 9 that is from Sudan?” That was the question presented to my wife Donna and I in December of 2021.
I have been a member of a Church of Christ exclusively throughout my entire life. I’ve attended services and meetings for other groups and fellowships, for one reason or another, but that was usually done so for convenience, concession, or curiosity. This family story is not only about my church etymology but my personal spiritual journey as well.
The world lost a great man yesterday and I lost one of my all-time mentors. Dr. Mike James played a major role in many of my life-changing-turning-points of my existence.
In 1974 I had just arrived at Harding College and was able to secure a scholarship position as the photographer for their yearbook, the Petit Jean. I was probably not qualified to do the job, but I thought I was. I needed the money, and I figured I would learn on the job to do what I needed to keep the scholarship.
On a warm September Saturday morning in 1971, when I was a Senior in High School, my Dad and I walked into a music store (I can’t recall the name of the store), on the north side of downtown Libertyville, Illinois, to trade-in my drum set in order to buy a new guitar. I was conflicted on what I wanted. I was new at learning the guitar and I couldn’t decide whether to buy a steel string acoustical, or a nylon-string classical acoustical guitar. I ended up purchasing the steel string option that the clerk showed me. I NEVER regretted that choice. It was a Martin Guitar, the 000-18 Model. This particular Martin Guitar featured a small box with a slightly smaller neck than most guitars that fit my small hands better than other guitars.
As a working advertising professional turned professor, I like to say that I started my career in the distribution of news and advertising when I was 11 years old.
ELEVEN years old, you ask?
Yes. I was a paper boy and I had two newspaper routes! Remember those? One of the routes was a door-to-door delivery, Sunday only route. One of the duties of that route was to also periodically go door knocking to ask if they wanted to subscribe to the newspaper delivery, as well as collecting for the aforementioned newspaper for the previous month. Today all newspaper subscriptions are paid for in advance.
Today, an email, a social media post, or almost anything on the Internet, can circulate breaking news around the world in a matter of seconds.
I started working in news on a professional level since I was a college intern at an ABC television network affiliate in Little Rock, Arkansas, KATV-7. 2-3 days per week I would drive from Searcy to Little Rock to show up to be "trained" in the news business but to also be abused in the pettiness of the personal errands I had to run. I must have done pretty good because before I left college in 1977, I was the first intern ever hired at that same station as a news photographer and my career in media has never looked back. Sometime in early the 1980’s, the 24-hour delivery of news and sports started unfolding in the form of CNN and ESPN.
For several years, before my wife Donna and I had ever heard of Agape Asia, we inadvertently practiced what you could call sponsoring a child. How? We would often reach out to young adults (married or single) at church who were from away from home and family. We would have them in our home for meals and activities. There have been many of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that we had non-family visitors at our table. They became like our own sons and daughters.
I call it "My Wall of Fame" with apologies to any other Hall of Fame. To me, this isn't just any Hall of Fame, it's "my" Hall of Fame, er, I mean my WALL of Fame. I do realize I run the risk of failure to include everybody, but I wanted to add a photo of me with every one of my majors that I oversaw (advertising), and many other of the students that I hope to have made a profound impact on their life. I know they have made an impact on my life.
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
II Corinthians 3:18
Change is sometimes very hard for me. For a guy who never likes to do something twice the same way -- I am often at odds with myself. On one hand I know what I like, and I know what works. But I get bored… easily, so I change.
When I was a 20-year-old young man, young women my age were always on my mind. But they were not my priority in the fall of 1974. Instead, I needed to get off to good start in school, I had a scholarship campus job as the yearbook photographer that absolutely consumed me, and I was tired. I was tired, and the semester had just started!
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:13-14
What did you want for Christmas when you were 11 years old? After all these years, I can’t really say I remember exactly what I wanted, but I know what I received was not something I had thought about. I was so surprised to see a gift-wrapped box under the Christmas tree that was much smaller than the thing I wanted. I thought maybe it was a part of something that would lead to a bigger prize in another room or outdoors, because that was sometimes what my parents did. Little did I know the contents in the box was actually the perfect gift for me. Inside the box was a camera. Not just any camera, but a Kodak Instamatic 100, cartridge-loading, flash-cube-popping camera. As I said, I was surprised, but not disappointed. The idea of a camera settled in quickly because of the intriguing possibilities of what I could do with it. I didn’t realize it then, but that gift would change my life!
Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52
When people ask me what “I do?”, I like to tell them “I’m a professional story teller!” I speak. I write. I’m a blogger, photographer, audio-recorder, rinse and repeat. I’ve worked as a broadcast journalist, photojournalist, speech writer, and a copy writer.
It was the summer of 2012. Everybody that loved me, gently but firmly said, “Steve you need to lose some weight!” And they were right. At 5’3” and 217 pounds I WAS overweight! I was endangering my health, and my future. Something had to change. I knew I needed help. I couldn’t do this alone. I had done this before, only to gain my weight back, rather rapidly, and I had tried everything, gimmicks, tricks, with money included, for all of the easy fixes. All to no avail.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. -- II Corinthians 5:1 (NIV)
It was July 1, 2011. This day was three years in the making. Or was it 24 years in the making?
It was our final move day from 8123 Westview Lane. Donna and I had moved out slowly over the course of the last three years and that move had accelerated in the last three weeks. Now, the move was coming to an end.
Give to everyone what you owe them,... if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:7
In 1967 I was 13 years old. I’m bad in math, but as I write this that makes me 63 now (well next month). That was the year I was in the eighth grade and I first walked into my English class at Middletown High School, in Middletown, Rhode Island. I met my English teacher for the first time. Her name was Dorothy Fisch, and she became a turning point in my life!