Tuesday, August 28, 2007

He Gave it all

William Simon in Israel

After a number of days in Israel I had returned to the airport for a trip back to Europe and then to the United States. Arriving early I was advised that the flight had been delayed due to an important plane from the United States was in the protected air space and that no planes could land or take office until it had safely arrived.

As I walked around the airport I noticed a roped off area and a number of microphones in the center. This interested me so I stayed in the area and went to the large window overlooking the runway and tarmac where the plane would station itself. Within a few minutes a large white and blue 747 aircraft landed and taxi to the exact area I had assumed it would.

In a short time I noticed Air force One opening it’s doors as the local military and police surrounded the plane. Then a large contingent of people began to get off. Many were journalist and photographers. Finally, the important person came to the door and down the steps to the greeting from local officials.

Within a few moments they entered into the airport headed toward the protect area. I was still unaware of who the man was until the Israeli official gave some opening remarks to the press and the many that by now covered the area. Then he introduced William Simon the Secretary of the United States Treasury. After a few words he left the center stage and headed straight me and shook my hand asking if I was an American. After I answered he said a few words lost with time and then started to greet others standing near me and then disappeared with the entourage.

I have met many notable people but my impression of him increased after I learned of his accomplishments but more because of what he had done for others.

As Secretary of the Treasury, Simon headed a 125,000-person department, which collected the nation's taxes, paid its bills, managed its accounts, printed its currency, and minted its coins. He also had responsibility for various law enforcement agencies that were part of the Treasury, including the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. In his capacity as chief financial officer of the United States and principal advisor to the President on economic affairs, Simon chaired or held membership in numerous financial, trade, and economic organizations.

When Simon left office at the end of the Ford administration in January 1977 Simon, returned to business, Simon also lent his support to a myriad of organizations, causes, and philanthropies. William Edward Simon, who was secretary of the treasury under President Nixon and gave much to charity,

In 1998, after having already donated an estimated $30 million to various causes, he announced his intention to give away his entire fortune, estimated at $350 million, to charitable organizations, and low-income educational groups.

Little known to many is that he was a Eucharist minister who also devoted a significant portion of his personal time to "corporal acts of mercy," ministering to the destitute and ill.

Long before his death at age 72 he had learned the truth forwards by the Word of God. That to whom is given much, that much should be given.

Rev. 20:12
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Twenty five years ago my wife and I were in Jamaica conducting Vacation Bible Schools in 6 churches with a combined attendance of 1100 kids and workers. Some of the native workers learned we were to celebrate our 24th Anniversary while there.

Without our knowledge a couple of the ladies was able to find some cake mix in a neighboring community store and probably spent most of what they had for it. On the day of our anniversary we went about our teaching and duties to make the VBS at this large old church built in the 1890’s a good one. We did not see anything happening to make us think we were going to be surprised, in fact had no idea something was going to happen that would cause us to remember this blessed day the rest of our life.

After the morning sessions ended, the classes all reassembled back into the auditorium and each class gave a detail of what they learned that day. At the conclusion the local leader, a dear gracious lady, asked if we would come with her back to a large room beyond the worship area. A few of the ladies in the church were positioned around each door as if to guard what we were about to observe. One of the ladies directed my wife and I to a round table in the center of the room that was absent other tables and chairs except for the two chairs around that table where we were to sit. By the time we were seated and settled, the room was nearly full of all the workers and about 300 young people. Each looking like they wanted a piece of what they could not have.

At this time a cake with very little icing was placed in front of us with a knife with a long handle had been sunk to the base of the cake sticking straight up. We were then prompted to both place ours hands on top of each others and to cut forward and then backward until the cake was cut. Then we were to take the smaller cut pieces and place it into the others mouth completing a Jamaican custom. When I started to feed her I noticed her eyes were closed tight with a slight frown on her face. With my prompting she opened her mouth and she chewed fast with a sudden swallow.

On the way back to our sleeping quarters I queried her about her behavior. At which time she said, “Didn’t you see the ants and bugs all over the cake and icing?” To which I replied I had not noticed. She then said, “I knew the expense and the work those dear people had gone to for us, so I was not going to hurt their feelings for the world. Because of that I was willing to eat it ants and all.”

This year we celebrate our 49th anniversary and are grateful for all the many we have spent serving others these last many anniversaries.

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;” - Jeremiah 5:30

Stamps taken at Allenby Bridge

Since I was eight years old I have collected stamps and even as an adult I published Al’s Stamp Exchanger for those who had a desire to swap with people from other countries. At one time I had people from over 100 countries that had sent me 100 different stamps from his country to get their name placed in the publication. Needless to say I built a large collection with a whole wall full of albums, etc.

Because my job in the early 70’s took me to many places overseas one of the first places I would go was to the post office and buy their commemortive stamps for a year or whatever they had. Soon I had souvenier sheets and books of a given year from many countries.

On a trip to Egypt and Isreal I bought large packages of stamps of each country and was happy to have gotten such a large variety from each and was especially happy with those I bought in Israel. Well, my flight back home was from Amman, Jordan (A Hashemite Kingdom) and I would have to cross the Allenby Bridge that was manned by the armies of both countries.

(The Allenby Bridge is a truss type bridge that crosses the Jordan River connecting Jericho, Palestine (the Israeli West Bank) to the country of Jordan. The bridge was destroyed during the Six-Day War but replaced in 1968 with a bridge called both the Allenby Bridge and the Jesr Al-Karameh, King Hussein Bridge. The bridge was named after the British general, Edmund Allenby. The bridge is a major crossing point for Palestinians crossing into Israel.)

After passing customs at the Israeli side I re-boarded the bus and crossed the bridge into Jordon where I had to go through their entrance point and customs. They began to open all my suitcases and bags taking out certain items and looking at each thoroughly. Then they took the package of Israeli stamps and tossed them into a waste basket. It took me by surprise and I burst out with “I am a stamp collector and want to keep them”. The officer’s answer was “we don’t recognize Israel as a country and do not let anything with that name on it enter our country.” Soon a number of other gifts I had bought were thrown in the same basket because it said Made in Israel. All of a sudden I remembered that the Israeli customs had stamped my passport on a loose blank sheet and told to leave it loose in my passport. It too was tossed.

After getting home I discovered there had been a declared war between the two countries for quite some time which helped me understand my lost.

When I remember this event I remember the heavy arms on both side of this bridge directed to each other and feel blessed I was spared my life.

When I sold my huge collection a few years ago the country that I had the least amount of early stamp issues was Israel.

We live in a time when conflicts, and countries that do not recognize each other still exists, but one day when life, nations, and conflicts cease we have a land where a holy God is in full control and all is bliss.

Rev. 21:4
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”