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Monday, October 10, 2011

What a Break

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Roman 8:28 (New American Standard Bible)

Did you know one of the most successful Christian endeavors in the United States happened because of a broken leg? It began at the beginning of the 1800s with a young Vermont farmer named Cephas Washburn. Washburn’s goal was to devote his life to working the family farm. One day while working on the farm he broke his leg and became too disabled to farm any longer. He thought his life was over but one day a local clergyman came to see him and persuaded the pious young man to enroll in theology school and enter the ministry. Washburn did, graduating in 1818 becoming a missionary to the Cherokee Nation. In 1820 he pioneered a successful Christian school, Dwight Mission, established first in western Arkansas and then relocating to the Oklahoma Territory. He served in the capacity of missionary, teacher and pastor until his death 40 years later. The school was finally closed for good in 1948 but for the years it was in operation hundreds of Cherokee, Osage, Choctaw and other Indian tribes were blessed with an education, job training and spiritual guidance. God didn’t break Cephas Washburn’s leg nor cause it. It happened in the course of choices the young man made that day. Who would have thought God could bring all this good to many through a broken leg? Cephas Washburn came to be known as the ‘Apostle to the Cherokees.’

At times when we’re in the throes of disaster this verse can be like swallowing a pill sideways-good for you but who wants to deal with the pain? It’s an easy burden when we realize God will perfect His will for those called according to His purpose through any circumstance, whether it is fortunate or regrettable. Though we may not understand it Christians know it intuitively even if it not experientially.

God’s plan for a simple Vermont farmer was not to break his leg but to use that broken leg as an opportunity to touch hundreds with the love of Christ. As he lay in his bed Cephas Washburn saw only a broken leg but God saw a heritage and used a broken bone to bring healing to a Nation.