• Pat

Best Benefit Dinner....ever!!!

So I found myself at a Guatemala City restaurant one stormy night where members of the Haggai Institute had gathered. The man himself, John Haggai, was visiting our country and was to deliver a speech. I wore my suit because this was probably the biggest celebrity event I would attend in the foreseeable future.

The small restaurant served a simple sandwich with a glass of Rosa Jamaica to the invited guests. A few people from Haggai spoke before the founder and president of this huge international ministry got up.

Just as he reached the microphone, the power went out! Fortunately the microphone worked off emergency power, along with one bright spotlight off to his left.

Yesenia and I had received a last-minute invitation with little understanding of what to expect. The rest of the guests included friends, people I marginally associated with and others whose names I vaguely remembered from other events.

The spotlight-enhanced silhouettes, heavy rain on the roof, and the amplified voice of the speakers punctuated by lightning and thunder made the moment a little surreal; a far cry from the last VIP-supper I attended.

That one was five years earlier at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. I probably spent more on my suit that night than the Haggai group had available for the entire Guatemalan event.

It was a fundraiser for research into a rare disease I worked with. My company asked me to represent the New York office only after several others were found to be unavailable.

So it was that I found myself schmoozing with famous athletes, television personalities, politicians and other celebrities at a $1000-per-plate gala in midtown Manhattan. It would have been an awesome experience in and of itself, but it was so much more.

The keynote speaker was a United States senator. He had the misfortune of following several emotional and inspiring testimonies about pioneering research and successes amid death. The senator’s dry, political-correct fundraising dialogue was dragging along when a small child ran up in front of him.

His little tuxedo jacket covered the 24-hour infusion pump that was keeping him alive. He was apparently one of our patients. His bright blond cowlick only enhanced the Dennis-the-Menace comparisons brought on by his constant running and giggling around the ballroom.

The child looked up and waved. “Hello there!” said the senator. As a smile invaded his face, the senator’s speech took off in a “that is why we need this research!” tone that left us applauding more-than-politely.

But it wasn’t until later that the miracle of who that child was hit me. As we were leaving, I saw the little guy with his parents. I recognized them right away. Now I knew exactly who the two-year-old was!

The last time I saw these people, we were in a pediatric intensive care unit. The parents were trying to come to grips with the daily management of a continuous medication infusion that might let their son live a while longer. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “let him go.” There was no way I could imagine that the limp, ashen, one-month-old gasping for air in the midst of those tubes and machines could survive another day. “Why prolong the agony?” I wondered.

Of course I only told the parents about the potential miracle of the drug their doctor suggested. I gave them examples of several patients who came back from the brink of death to enjoy years of normal childhood. I shared about patients who were kept alive long enough to tolerate the lung transplants that could give them a cure.

But on my way home, I prayed for them and the child. I prayed that it would be over quickly so they could move on.

Two years later, I could barely keep from crying when I realized this little kid, who was fully manifesting “terrible twos” behavior in a tuxedo at the Waldorf Astoria was the same child. The parents recognized me at about the same time.

I was just becoming cognizant that I may have been hugging the mother a little too long when the father wrapped us both up for another few minutes. Their little miracle was the highlight of my short career with that pharmaceutical company.

A couple of thousand years earlier, Jesus hosted a benefit supper. The budget was probably closer to the Guatemala dinner than the Waldorf event, but it was the biggest supper event in history. It did more than raise money. It gave more than a new awareness. It gave us answers. It gave us THE answers.

That night, he Lord demonstrated to the Apostles the importance of servitude and humility by washing their feet. Then He gave them the greatest commandment; to “Love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

Immediately after that command, he revealed that the apostles would scatter after His death and how Peter will deny him three times; but then He reassures them all by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and in me, also.” (John 14:1)

With those words, the apostles understood that even after they fall away, they can find their way back to Him through faith. Finally, He showed how the sharing of bread and wine will serve as the lesson of how to preserve His life and reaffirm our faith forever. “Break this bread…. Drink this cup…forever, in remembrance of me.”

At some point, Jesus sent Judas out of the place to fulfill his destiny. Then, walking to the garden to pray, He set in motion the events that ultimately saved all of us. His betrayal, His suffering, His death and His glorious resurrection were soon to follow. But before that happened, he prayed. He prayed for strength for himself and he prayed for the apostles.

And then he prayed for each of us; “My prayer is not only for them (the apostles and disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17: 20-21) “I have made you known to them and I will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 20:26)

Everything we need to be saved from everything that threatens us; servitude, humility, love and trust in God was presented at one priceless benefit dinner. It wasn’t just explained to help twelve men; it was shared for the benefit of all of us!

Serve, be humble, love one another and trust in God. It’s all we need to know.

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