Dr. Robert Ozment, a retired pastor and long time pastor of Atlants's First Methodist Church and a columnist for the Rome New- Tribune tells a heart tugging story told by a young pastor named Grant Parris.
Parris had been a fellow student at Emory University's Candler School of Theology more than 50 years ago.
It happened in Parris's early ministry in rural Alabama. He was preaching a revival meeting in a small country church. One day after the morning service, a farmer came up to the young preacher with a request: "We want you to come home and eat dinner with us today. This is a very special day." The pastor had a previous invitation but the farmer kept insisting, " You must go with us today. This is so important. " The pastor changed his plans and went with him.
The farmer was riding in his wagon and the long trip from the church to the house gave Parris time to pause and reflect. He knew the farmer and his wife one child, a son Billy. He knew the parents were concerned because Billy had been in trouble more than once.
When they reached the humble little dwelling, the table was set. Parris received a king's welcome. The preacher, Billy and the farmer washed their hands in a basin on the back porch while the farmer's wife poured the coffee.
When they had finished dinner, the farmer's wife said, "I guess you wonder why we insisted on your coming to our house today. Today is Billy's birthday."
The farmer interjected. "You may have heard that Billy is an adopted child. Billy's mother died in childbirth. Before she died she wrote a letter to Billy and requested that the letter be read to him on his 16th birthday. Preacher we want you to read the letter."
The farmer pulled from his overall bib pocket a yellowed envelope which he had guarded for the last 16 years and removed the handwritten letter.
The farmer, his wife and Billy sat silently as the preacher began reading, "Dear Billy, Today you are sixteen and I hope a very fine young man, If I were beside you, I know I would be proud of you. Sixteen years ago, Billy, I came to a place in my life when I had to make a decision. The doctor said it was either my life or yours. I want you to know, I was glad to give my life so that you could live. My greatest dream for you is that you accept Jesus Christ into your life, serve him and grow up to be a good man. Some day I shall meet you and we shall be together forever. Love, your mother."
Before I had finished reading the letter, Grant Parris said, "Billy had slipped out of his chair, on bended knees with his head buried in his hands, and tears streaming down his cheeks and dripping on the floor."
Billy said, "Why didn't someone tell me I had a mother who loved me so much? Why didn't someone tell me I had a mother like that?" Billy became a Christian by accepting Jesus as his savior and was never in trouble again.