Mr. States

Please Note: This blog post is a teaser for the book, Straight: an ExGay Prodigal Story.

The principal of the Christian school I attended until 9th grade wore several hats. He also was our teacher. A sweet older man with a speech impediment, he endured much from students. Reluctant to study, we found frustrating him to be highly amusing.

Harassment methods were strangely intricate and ever evolving. For example, we would prepare paper fans and agree on specific times during a given class period to pull them out and fan ourselves, proclaiming, ‘Oh! It’s so hot in here!’

When he left the room, we upset the trash can so that papers scattered across the classroom floor. Mr. States would lean against the door with his head tilted to the side, ‘Alright, who did it?’

Our desks had spaces underneath for storing books. We laughed so hard that we had to pretend to search for a book until it subsided.

I became known for impersonating him. When he was out of the room, I stepped up to the podium to imitate him before the class. Calls to my friend’s houses were commonly made using his voice.

One time, the principal called my friend’s house. His brother answered. “Hello?”

‘Hello, this is Mr. States…’

‘Knock it off, Matt! I know it’s you!’

It wasn’t me. It was the principal. I got caught red-handed!

His patience and tolerance for abuse were perplexing. Only by the power of Christ in a man’s life… Through it all, the Lord revealed a great example of a sanctified believer.

Nearly 30 years later, I took a teaching job in Cambodia. All of this came back to bite me. Across the globe, kids are kids. Times when I entered the classroom to find students standing on their desks and the trash can poured out on the floor, the Lord refreshed my memory and gave me a heart for Mr. States.

A couple of years later, my wife and I shared our ministry & song at the church of my childhood that runs the adjacent school. I was so blessed to be welcomed back. After the service, an older gentleman slowly made his way to the front with a cane.

‘I’m sorry for all I put you through, Mr. States,’ I said.

‘That’s ok,’ he remarked graciously. ‘I knew you were going through some things.’

That’s forgiveness empowered by the Spirit of God. Praise the Lord!

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

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