Blue Bells Jigsaw Puzzle
My most ardent handbell fan, supporter, and benefactor passed away this weekend. Mr. Higgins, I am forever in debt to you.
The JoyBell Ringers will be playing for his funeral tomorrow. Please pray for us that we will honor him well.
Warning! Long eulogy, coming; skip if you don't have time!
The following is reprinted from a letter that I sent to Mr. Higgins last year. I am sharing it with you all today so that you might understand what a generous spirit he possessed, and perhaps be enlightened to see the far-reaching and unexpected impact we can make on somebody's life through our kindness.
"Through the ministry of the JoyBell Ringer, you have profoundly enriched the lives of at least 20 home-schooling families. These are mostly people of very limited means who could not otherwise afford a music education for their children. It is a well-documented fact that learning music is just plain good for you! Here is an excerpt from an e-mail that I recently received that serves to underscore the value of music education and ringing in the life of the church:
"So many times churches stress the idea of small group fellowships and here you are providing room for them (the handbell ringers)! Congratulations! Also, while they are with you, they are experiencing wonderful sacred music to treasure the rest of their lives. I just got back from attending the MENC conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was so fun to learn that when people are performing music, and especially when it calls for the use of both hands, there is an amazing thing happening within the human mind. Thanks to MRI imaging, there are now ways to trace how much of the mind is working for a given task, and what parts of the brain are activated. When performing music, there are no less than 7 areas of the brain firing at the same time, and not only that, they are firing back and forth in 7 directions at once, utilizing both the left and right sides of the brain, while passing through the core which is being stimulated to think creatively - out of the box, so to speak. What they have discovered is that musical performers are developing not only artistic talent, but the ability to problem solve and think creatively in all other aspects of life. This means, your church is being doubly blessed with the development of people who will be not only adept at music, but will be huge contributors to all aspects of church involvement. They are learning valuable thinking tools that will enable your church to become all that God intends."
Because of your decision to bless our church and honor your wife, Margo, with the donation of handbells:
Candice and Michelle Jordan were able to participate in the Word of Life Talent Competition, winning first place regionally AND nationally, earning them a handsome scholarship to the Word of Life Bible Institute. Candice applied her scholarship to study at Word of Life in Argentina for a year. What an amazing opportunity for a young lady who is the oldest of 7 children, and whose father was making a missionary’s salary working at Joy Ranch!
One of my young ringers, who comes from an un-churched, broken home, heard the gospel and accepted Christ as his Savior. (It was another JoyBell Ringer that prayed with him and led him to Christ!)
The Bennett family found immediate support and a warm welcome to the community when they arrived here 2 years ago. This family had been through a long series of hard moves over the previous years and were imminently expecting their fourth child when they arrived. The JoyBell Ringer quickly befriended them, helping them to find housing and providing for their needs when the new baby came. Through involvement with the JoyBell Ringers, their children (who did not have any prior musical training) have gained new abilities, leading to a soaring level of self-esteem and confidence, AND they have formed many rich and lasting friendships, as well.
Our church has been able to bless many other area churches, crossing denominational lines with the message of God’s love through the beauty of handbell music.
You have brightened the lives and brought joy to a countless host of infirm, elderly, and disabled people in the local nursing homes and at the Training Center through our regular performances at these institutions. I personally know for a fact that the JoyBell Ringer’s program at Wheatland last December was the single and last moment of delight that my mother –in-law experienced on this earth. She spoke of it frequently until her death.
You have so profoundly impacted, enriched, and changed my life that I am utterly overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. The first time I ever heard handbells was at First Baptist Church in 1979. At that moment, I found my way to be involved in music ministry (a deep, unfulfilled desire of mine since I am NOT a vocalist, nor proficient on any other instrument.) Since that time, I have grown from being a nervous beginner, to skilled ringer (and even solo-ringer), to nervous, inadequate, new director, to well-trained, proficient director and music educator, and now, highly- capable member of the Rejoice Ringers, and so many children’s beloved, "Miss Charlotte." Teaching these children and ringing in Rejoice are the highlights of my life!! Every week, I get to experience the "magic" of being on a handbell team. My dearest, life-long friends are ones that I have met through my involvement with handbells.
So you see, Mr. Higgins, you didn’t give just a set of handbells to the church. You gave rich treasures of friendships, Christian community, belonging, beauty, music lessons, self-esteem, inspiration, opportunities to explore the world, and even the eternal gift of salvation. Only God knows the extent of the influence your gift has had; Only God can adequately repay your investment.