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Who Is Your Onesiphorus?

I was reminded recently of a sign I once saw printed on the back of a milk delivery truck. It read, "All we have we owe to udders."

That sign, of course, had two meanings. First, it was saying that the milk in that truck was being transported to customers who would consume it for their own nourishment, courtesy of the cows who had produced it. Having had a dairy farmer for a grandfather, I quickly picked up on that message.

But the sign was also a reminder to the commuters who read it that everyone has had the help of other people in getting to their current positions in life. Even "self-made men" owe something to someone else who encouraged or inspired them, loaned them money, paved the way, or in some other way made it possible for them to succeed in their field.

This reminded me of the apostle Paul's recollection of how one man, Onesiphorus, had helped him. He recalled how the man had shown him kindness, ministered to his needs, comforted him, revived him, and braced him (was "like fresh air"). Paul concluded with this summary exclamation: "What a help he was!" (2 Tim. 1:16-18 AMP).

As I meditated on that comment by Paul, I thought back to the many people who, in various ways, have helped me in my life journey, often without their knowing the influence they were having on me.

For example, my various teachers, such as Mrs. Zachary, who taught me how to read, and Mrs. George, who taught me to enjoy reading and set me on the pursuit of history. And so many other teachers.

Paul Poirot, editor of The Freeman, who accepted and published the first article I ever submitted and encouraged me to continue writing in defense of free enterprise.

Dr. Charles Walker, editor of the Journal for Christian Educators, who not only regularly published my articles and encouraged me to write more on that topic but also employed my editorial services to improve his own educational publications. His son, Dr. Brian Walker, continues to use and encourage my work.

Dr. Gerald Carlson, when director of Positive Action for Christ (aka ProTeens), hired me to work on improving their curricula for junior high and high school students and greatly encouraged my continued writing.

Dr. Carl Abrams, who guided much of my post-graduate studies in history and indirectly influenced the publication of my first book, Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries. His instruction and advice also have been instrumental in the publication of my other books.

More recently, Joy Neal Kidney, who gently nudged me to venture into radio by submitting some of my writings to the Our American Stories radio program hosted by Lee Habeeb. (These can be heard by visiting either the OAS web site at or my personal web site at Joy has similarly encouraged several other writers to do the same. She has proven to be a helper to many people! You might enjoy listening to some of her own contributions on the Our American Stories site.

This list of my "helpers" could go on and on. What a help they all have been! I can truthfully confess that I owe a lot to others.

What about you? Who can you list as having been your helpers in life? Why not thank those who are still around? Tell them how much they've meant to you in your journey. You can in that way be an encouragement to them in their own journey.

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