Harold Gooley volunteered to teach a handful of Junior High boys, which is as close to herding cats as you can get.
Having a name like “Gooley” and working with Jr Hi boys is not a good mix. I was one of his students. He was, “Mr. Goooooulee!!” There was a tone of Halloween freakishness and just loud enough to be overheard. Classes were held in a dimly lit, musty smelling balcony of an aging facility.
Mr Gooley was in his 50’s, single and hunchbacked.
I’ll never know for sure if Mr. Gooley was merely arm-twisted into teaching this tough to reach age group, however my experiences with him would indicate that he was more than just a warm body filling a volunteer role. He gave homework assignments. To Junior High boys. Read that again.
One assignment was to write an essay on the Life of Paul. Memory tells me I was the only one to hand in an essay.
He gave me the gift of a New Testament for completing a Junior High essay assignment. It was his way of encouraging me to grow my faith in Jesus.
The New Testament I received was a Living Bible translation written especially for teens. It was the “Reach Out” version.
The cover was in colour, not the typical fake black leather covers of other Bibles in my possession. It had pictures and teen related commentary.
Mr Gooley wrote a personal note to me on the inside cover. His words had a profound effect on me; far greater than he could have ever imagined.
“This Bible comes with the fervent prayer that it will increase your knowledge of the things of God and create a desire to ‘reach out’ to others in your own age group.”
“This also comes to show my own gratefulness for the encouragement you have given to continue my work among young people especially in the field of teaching Sunday School.”
I was hard pressed to imagine what encouragement it was that Mr. Gooley got from me. However, he said he was encouraged by me.
That felt good.
He encouraged me to count the “things of God” as valuable. His was an important adult voice in addition to my parents’ voices.
Mr. Gooley was praying for me… fervently. He wanted to me to know God.
I think Mr Gooley got a lot of mileage out of his prayers.
Who knew then that 45 years later I would become a pastor, reaching out to thousands each month.
He had no way of knowing that I would get to lead purposeful and devoted believers from North Pointe who are engaged in reaching out to hundreds of people in our local communities.
His generosity, intentionality, influence and prayers rippled a long way into the future.
Mr Gooley has long ago passed away. His “Reach Out” Bible sits on my office bookshelf.
Mr Gooley’s New Testament gave me a effective pattern to follow since I was a teen:
1. Read the New Testament.
2. Allow your mind to be expanded by the God behind these words.
3. Let Him reach out to your thoughts, your emotions, your will.
4. As He fills you with Himself, reach out to others with the fantastic good news.
I thank God for Mr. Gooley.
I pray I am having the same measure of influence on others as he had on me.
APPLICATION: Who is your “Mr Gooley?” Who poured into your life? Post their name and role in your life below. Thank you.
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