It was in the early 1950s, and my parents were in seminary in Kansas City. Our family had the opportunity to live at the seminary with other couples and families. All were full time students at the seminary just like my parents were.
We lived on the seminary grounds in apartment buildings that were three stories high. So we had seminary families all around us, below us and above us. All the parents who attended seminary had the same purpose for being there. That made for a special bond. Added to that, the close living quarters resulted in relationships that were transcendent of culture, language or backgrounds.
Most of the children went to the seminary day care on campus. In the middle of the eight apartment buildings, there was a playground for all the children. So we spent many afternoons and Saturdays on the playground.
On Sundays, each family would go to their own respective churches where the fathers were employed as pastors or educational directors. On Monday nights they would all report back as to how their services had gone the day before. It was a wonderful time and there was a tremendous amount of “togetherness.”
These families were from all over the United States and even foreign countries. Two of the families that stand out in my mind after all these years were from Africa. The men’s names were Joseph Deaye and Daniel Nwadei. They and their families lived in the same apartment building with us. Susie and I played with their children every afternoon.
These men had deep tribal markings on their faces. Starting at their cheekbones and going nearly to their chins, the marks scared their faces. When they were little children, they were given these marks to distinguish the tribal family.
Everything they did was so much different, from their accents to their dress to the way they ate and to what they ate. We thought America must have been a great change for them.
Thinking about all the changes in their lives since they had moved to America, my father asked them to reveal the greatest changes in their lifetimes. There they sat in America, far away from their villages, their extended families and their tribal way of life. American culture was an opposite reality to their different world. Africa had so little of what America had. In my little mind, I thought that they must really think America was something because they had come from a country that was so different. My father commented: “I know America is a big change from your country.”
The two men thought a minute and then Daniel answered: “The biggest change that I have experienced in my lifetime is the change that took place when Jesus came into my heart!”
That seminary supper has been long ago but his words were true and true for all of us — even those of us who had been born and raised in America. The greatest change is when Christ changes a person’s heart and life. According to Paul, we are “new creatures,” when we are in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17)
We can change our address by moving and even move to the other side of the world. We can change our weight, our jobs, our looks … we can change many things. But the greatest change is supernatural that results in changed minds, attitudes, purposes and goals.
Those men went back to Africa after their seminary days. I have no idea if those men are even living today. But I know in my heart, we will meet again.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: