A $45,000 test of character
Josh Ferrin's hands trembled as he fumbled for the phone. He started pacing the floor. He was so giddy from joy that when his wife answered, he choked on his first words.
"Tara," he blurted, "you're never going to believe this... "
Finding $45,000 in his new home changed Josh Ferrin's life, but not the way he first imagined.
Ferrin had just discovered $45,000 stashed in his new home.
There's a biblical parable about a man who found treasure hidden in a field. Ferrin found his in a dusty attic. For years, the author and illustrator had wondered what would happen if he struck it big. Would sudden wealth change him?
Three years ago, Ferrin got his answer.
His story began one Wednesday in May, when Ferrin was miserable. He was suffering from pneumonia and had been forced to take time off from his job as an artist at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. But things were looking up. He and his wife had just closed on their first house, and Ferrin decided to take a private tour after getting the keys.
Ferrin moseyed back to the garage, where he noticed something odd: a scrap of carpet dangling from an opening in the ceiling. Grabbing a ladder, Ferrin tugged on the carpet and pulled back a celling panel leading to an attic.
When he climbed into the attic, Ferrin saw eight World War II-era ammunition boxes. He delicately pried one open, dreading seeing a grenade. Instead what he saw blew his mind: wads of bills held together by orange fishing twine. He started counting -- and kept counting until he eventually realized he had stumbled onto $45,000.
He called his wife, already envisioning how they could use the cash: remodel their new house, repair their car, maybe even adopt. But her first response chilled those plans. She told him to call the family who previously owned the house.
"I immediately knew she was right," Ferrin said. "As much as I wanted to keep it, I couldn't keep it. That just wouldn't be right."
The previous owner was Arnold Bangerter, a biologist with the Utah fish and wildlife department and a father of six. His wife had died in 2005, and after Bangerter died in 2010 his children sold the house to the Ferrins. It turned out Bangerter had been squirreling away money for years; some of the bills dated back to the 1970s.
Ferrin contacted Bangerter's children and gave them all the money.
Before he did, though, he had a little fun. He photographed his two boys, Lincoln, 10, and Oliver, 7, throwing piles of cash up in the air while he yelled it was raining money.
Not everyone thought it was a laughing matter to give back so much cash. Some people told Ferrin he should have kept the money, that he had a legal right to it because he found it in his home. For Ferrin, something could be legal, but that didn't make it ethical. How could he keep money intended for someone else?
"We always wonder to ourselves, if I struck it big would it change me?" he said. "Would I be a different person? It was hard to hand over ($45,000), but it was the right thing to do."
What sealed Farrin's decision, though, wasn't ethics; it was fatherhood. Ferrin thought about the devotion Bangerter had for his children, and he saw a kindred spirit.
"I imagined this guy, for years and years, collecting money and putting it away. I understand that need to think for the future and take care of loved ones. I can understand him as a dad."
I didn't want to be the guy who found something and kept something secretly.
-- Josh Ferrin
Ferrin said he, too, is trying to leave something for his children as they grow up.
"There's a big world out there and I try to teach them to be good young men," he said. "Sometimes I come short of that. They'll forget about all the lectures I gave them. But I think they will remember this one."
Ferrin left the Deseret News but is still an artist. He draws political caricatures and whimsical children's illustrations and has written a book, "Blitz Kids," about his grandfather's role with the University of Utah's improbable basketball championship team in 1944.
Ferrin's art and his book, however, are not just a means to earn a living.
"It's my attempt to establish a legacy that will last beyond me," Ferrin said.
Now Ferrin's deed is part of that legacy.
News of his selfless act spread across the globe. His story is preserved online. He has received letters from around the world. One guy in Australia said he would be honored to buy him a beer. Another person sent him a pocket knife with the engraving, "Honesty has its own rewards." Ferrin had to stop granting interviews after a while because it became too much.
He says today that what he gained from giving away his treasure is more than what he found.
"It was one of those moments that test your character," Ferrin said. "We are the sum total of our decisions. I didn't want to be the guy who found something and kept something secretly. I don't regret it at all. It made me a better person."
-- John Blake, CNN
From the Christian Chronicle
These days, Kevin Turner has his head in the cloud.
Turner, a member of the Bellevue Church of Christ in Washington state, has served as Microsoft’s chief operating officer since 2005. He leads a global organization of more than 47,000 employees.
He’s helping Microsoft transform from software giant to a “devices and services company” — a term he used in a recent interview with The Australian titled “How Microsoft is shaping the post-PC world.” Gone is the era when people purchased his company’s products on disks in shrink-wrapped cardboard and installed them on bulky desktop computers, he says. Now users access a “cloud” of information through touch-screen devices, carried in their pockets.
Turner is used to change — and making change. The Stratford, Okla., native began his career as a Wal-Mart cashier as he attended East Central University in nearby Ada.
After graduation, he rose through the ranks of the retail giant, eventually serving as president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club, a firm with 46 million members and more than $37 billion in annual sales.
He attributes his faith in Jesus to the influence of strong Christian parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. He and his wife, Shelley, have been married 24 years and have three children: Blake, 17; Beau, 15; and Brynlee, 11. This fall, Blake Turner will join the football team as a walk-on at the University of California, Los Angeles.
As a Christian father — and avid follower of communication trends — Kevin Turner sees opportunities for churches to use ever-evolving technology to connect with new generations.
The Word of God is there, in the cloud, he says, but people of faith must make it a part of their online “inner circles.”
How can the church remain relevant in this highly technological environment?
The church must find ways to connect deeper with young people. Young people have new forums and new ways to communicate and connect, and the church has to become contemporary in those ways. It’s not about young people conforming to the way that the church has always communicated. It’s about the church adapting to the way the communication evolves.
This is a very fluid time from a technology standpoint. And it’s a very interesting time because the level of communication, the quality of the communication and the clarity of the communication has the potential to never be greater than it is today.
The ability to reach people on certain subjects at certain times has never been more timely, has never been more up-to-the-minute, up-to-the-second.
It would be great if the church could continue to make changes, adapt and become contemporary in this new world of communication.
Should a church have a staff member devoted to that kind of communication with the congregation?
It could. But I think it also means that everybody needs to broaden their skill set. Anytime you assign that to somebody, that says that other people don’t have to work on it or think about it.
You may need a catalyst to come in to teach, train and bring everybody along, but I think as long as you have the mindset that it’s the way that you have to re-transform yourself — and embrace the technology, and make sure that you’re not afraid of it.
I think that a catalyst can be very helpful and beneficial. The world needs the Word of God now more than ever.
Why do you see the world needing the Gospel more than ever?
The ability of people to get information has exploded with the Internet. I don’t believe that the spreading of the Word of God has exploded at the same rate as the Internet.
I think there’s a chance there for that to be resolved and improved. Utilizing the contemporary means finding and connecting with people and sharing ideas and thoughts.
Think about it. There’s never been an easier forum to discuss, debate, learn things about the Gospel and the Word of God than there is today in a very broad, diverse, opinionated way, which can only make us all smarter and better and give us a different perspective.
Yet the ability to see people use those vehicles is still limited today. I think it can be dramatically changed.
What do you perceive as the relationship of teenagers, technology and the church?
In terms of teenagers utilizing technology to connect to the church — or to connect to the Word of God — they are limited. They’re connecting with their circles, their interests, their friends, their family. Everybody is creating their own inner circles.
The inner circles are getting broader and bigger, but the ability to have the church be a core part of people’s inner circles is something, from a technology standpoint, that should and needs to continue to evolve.
Technology provides the means for people to belong to a community. Having the religious community be a part of people’s personal circles is very, very important — and is underutilized today.
How has technology impacted our work and personal lives?
Today’s work environment has positively affected families — the ability for people to work from home, the ability for people to work from a job-sharing perspective. The Internet has created a lot of jobs and opportunities for people to stay connected.
People ask me what I think about work-life balance. The word “balance” throws me off a little bit, because that says one is trying to do two things at once. I’m a real fan of work-life harmony rather than work-life balance.
There are times when family must take priority, and there are other times when work must take priority. It all depends on the situation.
How can parents help their children understand this work-life harmony?
The biggest thing they can do is find the quality time that is necessary. Some quantity is important, but it’s not the most important thing. The quality of the time is the most important thing. We have a rule in our house that when it is dinner time and we’re all sitting around the table, there are no screens, no technology, and we talk and communicate face to face and person to person.
Technology is a real asset. We love it, and it can change our lives in a positive way. But there are times for no technology and making sure that we don’t forget that we have to talk to each other and listen to one another and share with one another so that we can totally connect with each other on a deeper level.
What have you learned from managing a large workforce that might benefit church leaders?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that almost every person has hopes, dreams and aspirations.
It’s difficult to understand exactly where everybody’s coming from, but as long as you keep in mind that you can be a positive energy carrier, you can be someone who inspires hope.
People want to feel heard. They want to feel like their opinion matters. They want to feel like the leader really understands where they’re coming from. Even though their point of view might be different from the leader’s, it’s important that the leader connect on an individual basis and have that connection at a deep level, to be able to inspire and motivate and encourage people to do things they normally or ordinarily wouldn’t do.
That is one thing that I have found. It’s pretty universal around the world, regardless of the organization, culture or country
A little story about a Harley (from this summer)
Well, I have something to admit. When I returned from devo last night, I pulled a turn in my parking lot here at my condo, accidentally hit the front brake on my Harley, and sat the bike on it's side . I was thrown from the bike, and suffered a fairly nasty gash on my upper lip. I picked the bike back up , put the kick stand down, took a moment, prayed, got back on it, and rode onward. All in all, the bike is 100% ok (not even a scratch!), and I'm ok, except for a busted lip and busted ego. Yes, I was more concerned about the bike then me... go figure.
Then, it got me thinking. Have you ever been "thrown from the bike" on occasion in your life? Life as a follower of Jesus isn't supposed to be a smooth ride all the time. Sometimes, we'll have rough spots in the road. We'll put our bikes on their crash guards a time or two. And yes, sometimes we'll go into the ditch. But, by the grace and power of God through Christ and the follow "riders" He gives us in our lives (ie: our Christian family), we can get moving again, and keep going forward in the name of Jesus. The rough patches, bumps, bruises, even cut lips we might get as part of life should point us to deepen our relationship with Jesus and with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
So, to wrap up the point without the Harley lingo: Life is tough. It's sometimes down right brutal. And when life throws you around and tosses you into a ditch (ok, maybe a little motorcycle lingo), remember that your Heavenly Father and His "biker club" (the church) are there to help lift you up out of the ditch, dust you off, and get you moving again.
A side note to this: I called my dad, who isn't a Christian, about what had happened. He came up, noticed that I had a busted lip, blood on both my hands from the injury, asked how I was, and how the bike was. As I got a little down on myself thinking I should have known better than to do what I did, he said "David, I did the same thing a few months ago on your Suzuki, remember?" I am a more experienced rider than Dad, btw. I said "yea, I remember. I guess great minds think alike!" He laughed, and before he left, he said "love ya kid." That is not something my father says much... ever. So, maybe... just maybe ... he's seeing a little bit of Jesus for the first time.
Our last hosting provider suffered some outages that took the site down, or made it too slow, so we came up with another solution. So, feel free to browse around the new site, on a new provider. Let me know if you see anything missing.