There are many stories of God’s unmistakable work to be recalled. I think this one is to be told today. It is a story of God’s action in a significant and unexpected way that I witnessed. I was an executive in a theological graduate school in New Orleans. My responsibility included making sure student accounts were paid in a timely manner…tuition, rent, fees, and the like.
One of the graduate students in campus residence with his wife and three children became unable to pay his rent. It fell to me to work with him to find a solution. As we engaged, I admired the man and his honest efforts to meet his obligation. The hard part was that after an extended time, much effort, and much prayer, his debt had accrued to a point beyond his ability to resolve. It was clear that he and I needed a solution that did not seem to exist. With a very troubled spirit, I had to tell him that he had to vacate his campus residence. We parted with his educational dream in jeopardy, provision of his home threatened, my spirit deeply grieved, and both of us begging God for an answer.
The next day, another graduate student, also married with children, came to see me. He indicated his awareness of the matter and asked the amount of the debt owed by his friend. Confidentiality rules prohibited me from revealing private information, but I wrote an averaged number on a note and handed it to him. It was a large number.
“Will payment of this amount allow my friend to remain on campus and continue his studies,” he asked. I nodded.
He reached into his satchel and withdrew a check book. I watched as he stared at the check book for a long moment, sighing deeply as if resigned to a hard but necessary task. Then he wrote a personal check for the full amount and handed it to me.
“Please apply this anonymously to my friend’s account,” he said very quietly.
I was acutely aware that I was witness to an act of incredible sacrifice and was deeply moved. “I will take care of it,” I said. “But I will need to tell him something.”
He looked away searchingly for a moment then slowly turned his gaze back to me and said, “Tell him that I said, ‘My Lord paid it all. I can do no less.’”
I will never forget that moment and its impact upon me. I can do no less.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Mark Foley is the President Emeritus of the University of Mobile. He and Marilyn have two children and six grandchildren. Marilyn is a recognized ceramic artist, and Mark is an active business consultant based in Mobile.