LIFE-CHANGING INFLUENCES IN MY LIFE.....
Here is my contribution (it may be the first of several) ....
Joe Allbright – He only had eyes for His Lord......
Joe Allbright was Allbright by name and “all bright” by nature, and I am proud to say was a distant relative of mine.
With minimal schooling, Joe had worked in a boot and shoe factory all his life, twisting and cutting leather to trim for shoe parts. He was trusted and respected by everyone – bar none!
He was about seventy years old when he became my Sunday School teacher, and he remained someone I looked to as an example until he died aged almost ninety.
Now I have to admit that his Sunday School teaching never caught my imagination. This eight-year-old had too much interest in Roy Rogers, football and aeroplanes to have much interest in Abraham, Jacob, Joseph or David!? ... or famines and wars that happened 3000 years ago! My attention was always “somewhere else”.
.... That is, until I felt “Mr Allbright’s” right hand pinching my knee, his grip made incredibly strong from his many years fighting hard leather! So strong a grip, it could guarantee an involuntary “Yelp!” as he regained my attention for a few more minutes!
The detail of what he spoke about made little impression on me. What DID, was his total belief in everything in what he called “The Good Book”.
He once told us.... “This is God’s book and He doesn’t make mistakes”.
And he lived the life....
Many a child from a poor family would bring shoes full of holes to Joe, who would “half sole and heel” them in his garden shed to give them a new lease of life. He never asked for payment – he just insisted that whoever brought the shoes, parent or child, stayed with him as he breathed new life into worn leather.
While they waited, invariably they heard about Jesus! ... The adults were asked, “Have you spoken to God today?” If they said that had not, Joe would be saying “There’s no time like the present.
Let’s do it now. O, Lord God our Father.....”.
Children found themselves listening to a bible story while he worked, and usually ended up promising to come to Sunday School to hear some more.
Some time before he died, he looked me in the eye and said “If you play the organ at my funeral, play my song when they bring my box through the doors, won’t you?” I assured him I would play it when they brought him in and again when they took him out. In the event I had moved home and was unable to attend his funeral but his song was played as he had asked.
The song he so often was found singing told everyone where his sights were set....
“What to me are all the joys of earth,
What to me is every sight I see,
Save the sight of Thee, O Friend of mine,
Jesus Thou art everything to me”
(chorus) “Jesus, Thou art everything to me,
Jesus. Thou are everything to me,
All my lasting joys are found in Thee,
Jesus, Thou art everything to me.”
It summed up his life to perfection. He only had eyes for His Lord – nothing was allowed to come between him and his beloved Saviour.
So what did he do to influence an eight-year-old boy so much? He taught me a respect for the Word of God at an early and impressionable age – a respect I have never lost. During the years that followed I saw his love of God’s word was matched by a life which reflected its contents. He lived his life as if heaven was here on earth.
What a role model! What an example of a follower of Jesus! What a man to have come into contact with! How grateful I am to have been influenced by Joe Allbright!