When you look at the endless problems we face in society today, it's easy to think, "But what I can do? I'm just one person."
The fact is that God only has people to use, and He uses one person at a time. It's amazing to see what can happen when one person decides to take a stand.
Lisa L. is the homeschooling mother of three children. She's 35 years old and, along with her husband, Mike, graduated from our ministry training school when it was based in Pensacola, Florida.
Initially, the transition from ministry school to motherhood was challenging, as Lisa went from wanting to change the world to having to change diapers. Then, she realized that she could change the world one diaper at a time, and so, from their earliest days, her kids would be involved with her in evangelism and in acts of compassion, even looking for opportunities to share the gospel during trips to the grocery store.
Lisa also teaches her children about modesty, believing that beauty is God-given and can be cultivated but that sensuality is a degrading attack on the gifts that God has given us.
A few years ago, she was in the check-out aisle of a store when her son, then 5 years old, said to her, "Mommy, why is that woman taking off her underwear?"
When Lisa looked at the magazine cover, which was at the eye level of her children, she was shocked to see the image of a woman who was pictured in the process of removing her bottoms. How vulgar!
Lisa politely brought it to the attention of the store manager, who agreed with her perspective but had to refer the complaint to corporate management, and that's as far as it went.
Last week, Lisa and Mike were at Books-a-Million in their local mall when they noticed the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, which really crosses the lines of propriety.
They kindly asked a clerk there to cover up or remove the magazine, and as Lisa describes, "from out of nowhere a yelling and mocking man came jolting into my face, yelling for all to hear that my viewpoint was not only wrong but completely discarding the beauty of a woman's body. Only seconds later was he threatening to use his army ranger moves on us!
"Mall security was called and after a few minutes of loud screaming/threatening and what I thought would be an all-out fist fight, I noticed the sweet clerk (who was in complete agreement the entire short conversation we were able to have) had turned all the magazines over to hide the horrendous images on the front!"
It was quite a dramatic event: "It all happened so fast ... Before I knew it he was yelling at me, and then, Mike stepped in and to let him know he needed to walk away. It all went downhill from there. He said he was an army ranger and was going to really hurt Mike. I couldn't believe it! Then, he started insulting me and saying how we were both crazy. It was wild ... so wild.
"But, in the end, no one was hurt and the magazines were turned around. I think everyone in the store received a nice visual on how disturbing the effects of these types of magazines can be. Hoping God was glorified in some way. I haven't had that much adrenaline activated in a very long time!"
Mall security actually had to walk them out of the store for their safety, and when they got home, Lisa was so disturbed by the night's events that she couldn't sleep, deciding to get online and search for contact information for the corporate offices of Wal-Mart and Harris Teeter, a large grocery chain in their area.
She placed calls to the corporate management of both stores and the next morning was contacted by managers from Wal-Mart and Harris Teeter.
Wal-Mart pledged to look into the matter immediately and—get this—an executive from Harris Teeter called Lisa, expressing complete agreement with her concerns, following up with this email:
Hey Lisa, sorry for the delay on sending this to you.
It was nice talking to you yesterday and after we got off the phone I sent communication to all the stores the expectations we have on merchandising the display / issue. All of our stores should have blinders in place on the shippers, covering the image on the front of the magazine. They should also have the mainline issues on a tier behind the normal Sports Illustrated covering the image on the front of the swimsuit issue.
Please let me know if you come across any stores that are not in compliance and I will be happy to reach out to them. We want to make sure we are providing a pleasant and enjoyable shopping experience for all our customers.
Tom S. (followed by his title in the organization).
Isn't this remarkable? It took one call by one person, and within hours, a decision was made not to impose an immoral cover on the customers of this fine grocery chain.
And for Lisa's part, rather than being intimidated by an angry and potentially violent outburst earlier in the night, she stood her ground and pushed forward.
One person affecting many stores and touching even more lives. A force for good and an encouragement to morality.
That's how change comes about, as each of us does our part and God does His work through us.
I encourage you to pray, "Lord, use me to make a difference for Your kingdom today!"
To listen to my radio interview with Lisa, click here.
Michael Brown is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian? and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire." He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience.
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