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Making a Difference

Margaret Sangster, the social worker, told her colleagues about seeing a small boy in an urban ghetto sitting on the stairs of a tenement. He appeared little more than a bit of twisted human flesh. The youngster had been struck by an automobile several months before, but his parents, fresh from Appalachia, neglected to get him proper medical attention. Although not part of her case load, she took the boy to an orthopedist and learned that through an involved series of operations the child’s body could be made normal again. She cut through the bureaucratic red tape, raised the funds, and set the process of cure in motion.

Two years after the child entered the hospital he came to her office. To her astonishment, the lad walked in without crutches, and to demonstrate the completeness of his recovery, he turned a cartwheel for her. The two embraced and when the youngster left, Margaret Sangster reported that a warm glow mantled the entire office. She said to herself, “If I never accomplish anything else in my life, at least here is one young man to whom I can point where I have made a real difference!” At that point she paused in her presentation and asked, “This was all of several years ago now. Where do you think that boy is today?” Caught in the emotion of that moment, several made suggestions—a school teacher? a physician? perhaps a social worker?

There was a longer pause, and with even deeper emotion, Margaret Sangster said, “No, he is in the penitentiary for one of the foulest crimes a human being can commit.” Then she added, “I was instrumental in teaching him how to walk again, but there was no one to teach him where to walk.”

Focal Point, magazine of Denver Seminary.