Jack and Evangel Smith are two people who changed the world. In 1962, they were Presbyterian missionaries teaching at a mission school in Ethiopia when they started a school for homeless kids in their back yard. This was a mission on top of their mission, but they were so overwhelmed by the poverty they saw, they felt they could do no less. Seeing the desperation around them, they told one little orphan boy, “Tomorrow we will start a school for street children. We want you to come, and bring your friends. But,” they warned him, “don’t bring any thieves.” The next morning they opened the gates to find him standing there alone; “Where are your friends?” they asked. “You told me not to bring any thieves. All my friends are thieves!” The Smiths changed the criteria: Bring your friends even if they are thieves. The next morning they opened the gates hoping to see the 20 or so boys for whom they had room — and discovered over 200 orphans standing in front of their home, ready to start class.
Word spread about the vocational program, and one day a call came from the front gate. Evangel found a 12-year-old boy standing there, dressed in rags, no shoes. He had heard of the program, and had walked 20 miles to ask for the chance to learn a vocation. He had no means of paying even the few cents the Smiths charged to purchase food for the children, but something in his eyes, his manner, called to Evangel, and she welcomed the little boy, Jerman, into the school. Jerman proved to be an extraordinary student, as well as a great help to the Smiths, and he very quickly became part of the family.
Four decades later, Jerman directs the CHAMPS program at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. He works with at-risk teens to help them secure an academic foundation that will prepare them for college – and the kids who complete the program receive scholarships. To date, 200 CHAMPS scholars have graduated from high school and started their college careers.
But Jerman has not stopped there. Because of the impact the Smiths had on his life, Jerman led his church, Eastminster Presbyterian of Columbia, SC to partner with the Smiths’ son, Philip, and the organization he leads, Hope Unlimited for Children, committing $300,000 to build a residential campus for orphaned girls in Brazil. Today that campus is home to 80 girls, many coming to Hope directly from the unforgiving streets of Brazil. Who knows which lives one of those girls will someday touch?
All this because one woman saw beyond the statistics, and looked with love into the eyes of a homeless boy. Love, generosity, and self sacrifice change the world every day, and everyone can do it. What will you do to change the world?