"The Right Thing To Do"
(by: Joseph Walker - ValueSpeak@msn.com)

3-11-2009 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #530

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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds”].

This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Patije

Story of the Week
The Right Thing To Do
(by: Joseph Walker - ValueSpeak@msn.com)

Darius and Johntel have a lot in common. They are both talented high school seniors. They both love basketball. They are both captains of their respective high school basketball teams. But on one Saturday night in February, they were forever linked in the minds of all who were present for a mutual act of courage, sportsmanship and respect.

The remarkable moment came during a game between Darius's small town Illinois team and Johntel's big city team in Wisconsin -- a game that almost wasn't played.

Just hours before tip-off, Johntel's mother lost her five-year battle with cervical cancer. Her death was sudden and devastating to all who knew her, and Johntel's coach wanted to cancel the game. But Johntel insisted that the game should be played, and so, with heavy hearts, his teammates prepared to honor their captain's wishes to play, and hopefully win, without him.

What they weren't prepared for was Johntel's appearance in the gym mid-way through the first half. As soon as he saw him, Johntel's coach called a time out. Players and fans surrounded the grieving young man to offer love and support. The coach asked him if he wanted to sit on the bench with the team.

"No," Johntel said. "I want to play."

Of course, his team was thrilled to have him, but because Johntel wasn't on the pre-game roster, putting him in the game at that point would result in a technical foul and two free throws for the opposing team.

Johntel's coach was OK with that. He could see that this was the teenager's way of coping with his loss, and the points didn't matter.

The opposing team understood the situation and told the referees to let Johntel play and to forget the technical foul. The referees argued that a rule is a rule, and the free throws would have to be taken before the game could proceed.

For possibly the first time in basketball history, officials had to force a team to accept and take the technical free throws.

As team captain, Darius volunteered to take the shots. One would have expected he was looking for an opportunity to keep his team close in a hard-fought game against a big city school. Or one could even assume he wanted a chance to add a couple of points to his personal statistics. In either case, one would be wrong.

Darius took the ball from the official, looked at the basket and calmly shot the ball.

Now, basketball purists know that the free throw line is 15 feet from the basket. Darius's first shot only traveled about 4 feet. His second shot only traveled 2.

Immediately, Johntel and his teammates understood what Darius was doing. They stood and applauded the gesture of sportsmanship as Darius made his way back to his bench. So did all of the big city fans.

"I did it for the guy who lost his mom," Darius told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the game. "It was the right thing to do."

For those who are concerned about such things, Johntel's team rode the emotion of the night to a 15-point victory. But as the two teams met after the game for pizza and sodas, nobody on either side was too concerned with wins or losses or personal stats.

"This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime," Darius's coach said. "They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they'll remember what happened in that gym that night."


Joe lives in Utah with his lovely bride, Anita. He writes the weekly column, ValueSpeak. -- Joe Walker ValueSpeak@msn.com

Pastor's Quote of the Week
The Jewish rabbis had long debated the question: Who is my neighbor? Jesus came presenting the idea of active and spontaneous kindness, a love of one's fellow men so genuine that it expanded the neighborhood to include the whole world, thereby making all men one's neighbors. But with all this, Jesus was interested only in the individual, not the mass. Jesus was not a sociologist, but he did labor to break down all forms of selfish isolation. He taught pure sympathy, compassion.

(From: The Urantia Book - Paper-140 Section-8)

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        Show me how to have Compassion for those who appear intentionally Mean. I try, but sometimes it feels far beyond my ability.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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