The Reverend Harry Zeiders of the Church of the Resurrection opened his Tuesday presentation to the Rotary Club of Emporia by talking about the 1980 crossover hit “Looking for Love.” The tune begins with a man singing about finding love in all the wrong places.
Zeiders followed with the story of a married couple who seemed to be on top of the world. Their son Harry was a star athlete in three sports and captain of the high school baseball team. Harry was a receiver with a brilliant career ahead of him. Harry’s nickname was Yogi, in honor of retired New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra.
One day, the athlete started having a few coughing fits. He didn’t think too much about the cough. It got worse and his mum decided it was time for Harry to go to the doctor. The doctor sent Harry to the hospital for an evaluation. Harry had to spend the night for assessment and expected Harry to go home the next day. Less than 24 hours later, Harry’s parents received the heartbreaking phone call that their son had died.
The parents traveled to California to deal with the grief of losing their son. It did not work. Harry’s father developed a tumor and his mother’s hair started falling out of his head. In 1969, a letter with bad news arrived from overseas from their eldest son. The soldier stationed in Okinawa, Japan got his girlfriend pregnant. He asked his parents for money to terminate the pregnancy. The money never came.
The couple kept the child, got married and moved to the United States. Later they had a second child, but all was not well. The father struggled with drug addiction, as did many Vietnam conflict-era soldiers. The woman decided to return to Okinawa to visit her family. She took her daughter on a trip. They never came back. The soldier ended up with a young boy.
“The young father didn’t know what to do with this little boy,” Zeiders said. “So he gave me to his parents.”
Rotary Club members immediately realized that Zeiders was telling its own story.
“Fortunately, my American grandparents, the same ones who did not blame God for the untimely death of their youngest son Harry, wisely raised me not to blame my father or my mother or anyone. They have simply said these are the facts and circumstances of your life. In God’s economy of love and redemption, they not only showed me the love of God, but somehow , making me look like some sort of third son, God began to heal lives for the loss of their youngest son.
Zeiders said his personal story is similar to Emporia’s story – at least for many in the municipality. Emporia suffers from a high rate of social dysfunction, and the city is not alone.
“This is the story of my life,” Zeiders said. “It’s not a black or race issue. It is a problem of the human race for all time. It is much wiser to face the life we have and focus on coming together to solve our problems together. Hurt people hurt people, and healed people heal people. Ending an unwanted life is never the response to an act of love. What we see is that all we need to know is the God of love and redemption for all the hurts we have in our lives and for all the hurts we have inflicted. others.”
Zeiders ended the presentation with the final verses of Johnny Lee’s hit – I bless the day I found you, oh you.