Soft Tissues for Silent Cries

Few people command as much of my respect as my grandfather. When I think about how little I really need to study Chinese, I remember my grandfather picking up Spanish as a sextegenarian for those occasional uses he creates. Few in my generation can say they first understood email because of their grandfather or wish they were as productive as he. No one has more completely and compellingly shattered the truck-driver stereotype. It was a deep honor when family friends compared my voice to his. People noting my willingness to learn how to do something I’m interested in are merely observing the flickering shadow cast by my grandfather.

I could go on. Suffice it to say he has always been far along a path I would be honored to follow.

My first call to arms in the war against social injustice sounded in my grandfather’s voice. He was a gentle warrior. Family visits usually included the passing of a little stack of tri-folded copy paper covered with updates on the fight to protect the innocent. My grandfather had spent countless hours collecting, networking, assembling, two-finger typing, verifying, crying over and distributing the information in those newsletters. I was proud to visit churches or friends and see my grandfather’s heart on their lobby table or countertop.

I’ve heard him berate politicians and watched him organize protests and rallies. I’ve joined him on overnight journeys to distant demonstrations. I’ve seen the tears well up in his eyes when he holds a baby that was supposed to be aborted. I’ve heard his voice choked with tears as he considers the extremity of the grace he’s experienced. I’ve watched his heart break for others who haven’t felt that grace.

I don’t really know what my activism will look like, but I know it will happen. This is a change I’ve seen coming and even claimed for a while, but has not yet transpired. When my students ask me why I’m here, my answer is the same as when I got here: Because I want to help people. It’s just more true now. When they ask why I would leave a more developed country to come here, I can honestly say ‘Because people are more important to me.’ I always knew there were problems around me, but I’ve not really seen my role in addressing them.

May that change me enough to become like my grandpa.

9 Replies to “Soft Tissues for Silent Cries”

  1. Well said, my brother. You find ways to vocalize things that I feel, but perhaps not deeply enough to pen (or key) them.

    And, if you ever see this, thank you, Grandpa.

  2. Dear Jesse,

    I am speechless. I don’t know what to say. You have honored me far beyond what is right. What can I say… Thank you Jess.

  3. Well dear brother Justin, what can I say but this is so beautiful! I only knew that you were a joke person that always make people laugh ; I only knew that you were a talented boy who could do many amazing things…thanks for sharing it with us:-)

  4. To My Dear Grandson, Justin,

    You have rendered me speechless (Well, almost). It’s ironic how the one who is said to have tweaked your interest in emailing was so befuddled by the complexities of blogging. When your brother Jesse emailed me a link last night, I just assumed that link was HIS. I did think it strange that he referred to learning Chinese, but… Well, now you can see why I had a career in driving trucks rather than that of being a detective.

    Now, to the subject at hand. I must confess to not monitoring your blog — a habit I must change, and I must monitor with some frequency. Jesse tells me this was not your first reference to me, so I will watch for further scurrilous attacks of kindness from you. Without doubt you have gone way too far with your praise.

    As for my involvement with injustice toward the unborn… When He burdens one’s heart about coming to someone’s aid there is really little one can do but respond. That is exactly what you are doing, Justin.

    As for my two fingered typing… I find that such slow typing was just about right for the speed with which I think. That was a good thing.

    I took note of your phrase, “social injustice.” I find many Christians of our stripe have concerns about what they call a, “Social Gospel,” and with some justification. After all, if all I do is speak out for the impoverished and disenfranchised in life, without sharing with them the good news I have fallen woefully short of my command. We are given multiple illustrations of how much he loved the poor and neglected. His accounting of the Good Samaritan shows how we need to become involved in helping and lifting… beyond issuing pious platitudes. When the sick man lacked the ability, or any man to help him into the pool of healing waters, He helped and healed him. He didn’t just issue a, “Well, God bless you.” Now, when He helped them and lifted them was He guilty of proclaiming a “social gospel?” Hardly.

    I didn’t mean to get carried away, Justin. I want to say I too am proud. I am proud of YOU. I am very proud that you are reaching out to those in need. I am proud that you appear to be well on the road God would have you to travel. I love you Justin. Am I allowed to say that on a blog? 😉

    Grandpa Jones

  5. @Jess: Do it. I find keying thoughts helps me have more of them. And thanks for ratting me out. You were given up.

    @Grandpa: Considering my assumption that you did not check this blog, you can be confident I wasn’t going for brownie points. Thus, I mean what I said. One point I didn’t dwell on was your humility; now more people can experience it for themselves. Thanks for your example and clear purpose. I was aware of the connotations of ‘social injustice’ but stuck with it because I also think it an apt description. Finally, I’m honored by your approval. I love you too, and you are welcome to say that any time in any way.

  6. Indeed, “Grandpa” Jones has been an inspiration to his natural children and grandchildren, but also to the countless people he and has wife have influenced over the years. Only time will tell the fires of activism that he has kindled in the hearts of young and old christians alike simply by example. The real Justin

  7. @TWFKATRJ: No worries. I wasn’t asking for an apology. I just felt obliged to confront the obvious longing for validation. Oh, and I’m not headed through Europe this winter, as I’d considered. Our reconnect will have to occur some other way.

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