Chuck Terrill: From the preacher’s pen

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Jimmy Granbery was a salt-of-the-earth young black man from New York City.

His father was in the United States Air Force. On short notice, the Granbery family found themselves transferred to El Paso, Texas.


It was quite a shock to Jimmy. He was the only black student in his class. To make matters worse, half of each day was taught in English, and half of each day was taught in Spanish. Jimmy was used to making an A in every subject. Now, he found himself barely keeping up with the slowest students. One day, Jimmy’s teacher announced, “Tomorrow, I will give you a pop-quiz on American history. I’ll ask the questions, and you’ll give the answers. Tomorrow we are going to find out who knows what about this country.”

Jimmy was excited. History was his favorite subject. Even though he didn’t need to, he studied late into the night, looking up trivial facts.

The next day, when the teacher announced the quiz, Jimmy was nearly beside himself. The first question was, “Who was called the father of our country?” Of course, Jimmy knew, and was waving his hand, but the teacher called on Margaret Ramirez. Margaret stood, curtsied, and said, “George Washington was called the father of our country, because he was inaugurated as the first president in 1789.”

“Very good, Margaret,” said the teacher, “you are so smart, and so pretty, and I am glad to have you in my class this year.”

Another question was asked, “Who said ‘My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Jimmy was jumping up and down, waving his hand, but the teacher called on Hector Rodrigues.

Hector stood, bowed, and said, “President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said that in his inauguration address in 1961.”

The teacher said, “Hector, you are so bright, and so handsome, and I am happy to have you in my class this year.”

And so, it went. Jimmy knew every answer. He jumped up, waved his hand, and the teacher never called on him. Finally, she said, “Class, that concludes our history quiz.” With that announcement, she turned and began to write on the chalkboard.

Jimmy couldn’t take it anymore. Frustrated, he shouted out, “I’m sick and tired of all these Mexicans!”

Shocked, the teacher whirled around and demanded, “Who said that?” Jimmy Granbery leapt to his feet and nearly shouted, “Davey Crocket! Alamo! 1836!”

Politically Correct? No. The story is adapted from a 1978 “Humor in Uniform” piece in Reader’s Digest. But, I know what it’s like to feel like he did. You probably do, too. Overlooked and frustrated, we can begin to suffer from a sense of low self-esteem. We feel like square pegs trying to fit in round holes.

What is the answer for low self-esteem in 2019? Jesus. Remember, Jesus thought you so valuable that He left heaven, suffered a horrific crucifixion and died to buy you back from sin and Satan. He thought you were pretty valuable. I think so, too.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have sternal life” (John 3:16).

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 471-847-2460.