If you were flipping through a magazine, a book, or scrolling quickly down a stream of online content, I’m guessing this picture would give you a reason to pause. It’s beautiful, it’s compelling, and you know it has a story.
We’re going to share one that will make the image even more beautiful, more compelling, and more inspiring.
Centered in the image are Sam and Sherry, flanked on either side by their daughters. It’s Sam and Sherry that are also the center and focus of the story.
In June of 2008, Sam had recently been reading and wrestling with the applications in the 21st century and a practical working out of “pure religion” as described in the familiar passage of James 1:27. He had recently spoken to his brother Paul about the matter and Paul related in turn a recent conversation he’d had with his son-in-law, Joe. Joe had stumbled across some information about a new organization that was helping to “put kids in Christian homes.” Joe tried to recall the name in his conversation with Paul, his father-in-law, “It’s sacred something”, then the image of the Ellis Crum hymnal popped into view. “Oh, yeah… Sacred Selections”.
The foundation had only been “in business” for about a year and had two funded adoptions under their belts. The website sacredselections.org had been on the web for less than a year in its original and primitive version. This was long before SEO or Google Ranking but somehow Sam tracked us down, or providentially stumbled across the site and contacted Dana.
Sam’s conversation with Dana led to the discovery that we would be in Bartlett TN in a few weeks for our first ever fundraiser, which happened to be about an hour’s drive from Corinth MS where Sam and Sherry lived. Sam checked his calendar and noted he and Sherry had prior commitments on the day of the fundraiser but asked us to breakfast the following morning
The four of us, Sam, Sherry, Dana, and I scooted into the vinyl covered booth at Applebee’s on the corner of Stage Rd in Bartlett Tennessee early Saturday morning. Sam kicked off the conversation with, “Well, I like what I’m hearing about Sacred Selections, but I’ve got a lot of questions.” Sam first had heard the word and the command to practice “pure religion”. He was wrestling with the practical application of this necessity and HOW to DO it without violating other principles regarding Biblical authority, so Sam took us to breakfast to “search the scriptures” to see if what he was hearing was “true.”
By the time we finished the coffee was cold and the pancakes were half eaten and soggy, but Sam looked at us and stated with a confident smile, “I had a lot of questions and I think you’ve pretty much answered them all. I think we’ll give you a try.” Years later, it occurred to me that once Sam understood our mission and its sound Biblical basis in principle and in practice, the discussion moved from the spiritual to the practical. It morphed into sharing our business plan for kingdom work. This is, I believe a good example of a missing component in getting God’s work done. We spend a lot of time preaching, teaching, and discussing the “what, why, where and when” we do things, but we often fall short of “how” we get stuff done. Sam and Sherry were willing to give us a try, not just because of what we were doing or why we were doing it. They bought it because our “how” made sense.
Sam was a business guy and as soon as we had “searched the scriptures” establishing the sound Biblical basis for how we were caring for the fatherless, the next line of inquiry was our business and marketing plan. Sam quickly found to his satisfaction that both hats fit well- the spiritual hat and the business hat. He told me, “That’s when I decided, ‘We’ll give you a try.” Sam is a quick study; the mission was based on solid Biblical principles and good business practices.
Sam and I both smile together, even chuckle a bit, about that first meeting almost sixteen years ago now. Many things have changed but one has remained steadfast. Sam and Sherry are still giving us a try. This couple has attended many of the foundations fundraising events in Tennessee, they’ve seen the families stand gratefully and proudly on many occasions. They’ve seen adopted babes in arms become young toddlers, growing children and even baptized, born again brothers and sisters in Christ. Sam also commented that receiving regular Sacred Selections newsletters sharing many stories of adoption with all the challenges and victories, seeing the “labors of love” being poured out across the country have been a constant source and reassurance that giving us a try continues to be a good and solid investment.
Sam and Sherry are two people who searched the scriptures, counted the cost, made a promise, and have kept their word. Sam and Sherry have faithfully sent $250 a month “for the babies” for sixteen years now. When talking with Sam recently about this story, it brought to mind two passages from the Apostle Paul, one as a reminder of admonition and the other of quiet confidence in the steadfastness of trusted brother. When Paul wrote to the brethren in Corinth, reminding, exhorting, and admonishing them to follow through on their previous commitment to send help to the saints in Jerusalem, he wrote,
I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.2 Corinthians 8:8
Sam and Sherry are a good example, just as the Macedonians were to the Corinthians. They have “tested the sincerity” of my love for sure. Secondly, I love Paul’s assurance in the character and relationship he had with saints in Philippi (Macedonian Christians) when he boldly says
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6
I know with full confidence Sam and Sherry will remain faithful in their commitment to caring for the fatherless as long as the Lord provides them with life and the means.
Lastly, and perhaps most beautifully there is another expression of Sam and Sherry’s faithfulness, wisdom, and love for sharing the gospel of the kingdom.
Sam’s health has deteriorated over the past few years. Yet, I’ve never heard him complain once, I’ve never been in his presence or on the phone with Sam when I’ve heard even a hint of sadness, discouragement, or wavering faith. All I hear is an anxiousness to hear how the work is going. There has been not a single sign of a dimming enthusiasm and joy for every new story, every new child that has found a place at the table in a loving Christian home, or another adopted child now born again.
Middle Tennessee Friends of Sacred Selections
This past March of 2023, Sam and Sherry demonstrated another remarkable example of their “pressing on”. The Middle Tennessee Friends of Sacred Selection held their eleventh annual fundraiser at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. Nearly 300 people showed up to financially support adoption and enjoy the fellowship of likeminded saints. Sam and Sherry showed up to along with their daughter, Stacee, and her husband Mark. Sam was in a wheelchair; Mark was guiding Sam to his place at their table when I saw his still beaming face. He was grinning widely as he held out his hand. It’s funny and profound how much can be behind two aging men simply shaking hands.
Sam quickly turned his head and Mark turned the wheelchair towards the table. Sam introduced me to several friends he had invited to the event. This is when I realized how good and wise Sam “the man” is. He had purchased two tables for the event and invited 20 of his friends and some colleagues to come. Sam wanted his friends, some of whom he has been studying with, to see what God’s people DO in addition to what God’s people BELIEVE. Sam’s friends got a chance that night to learn about the mission, hear good stories, a message from the word and to see Christian’s practice “pure religion.” Sam saw the opportunity to use good work as an evangelistic tool. Peter recognized the same thing when he wrote,
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.1 Peter 2:15
Remember Sam and Sherry, keep them in your prayers and let them “test the sincerity of your love.”