For With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible (Public vs. Private Charity)
To watch media coverage of the presidential race is to witness a perversion of the truth not seen since the days of the old Soviet newspaper, Pravda. Carefully avoiding any focus on the myriad failures of the Obama administration, the media instead paints a caricature of Republican Mitt Romney no less dishonest than the praise of Obama. Indeed, to hear the media tell it, Mitt Romney was not born, but is the product of a genetic experiment gone awry in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, splicing the genes of Adolf Hitler, J.P. Morgan, and Ebenezer Scrooge.
Only willful and contemptible calumny would ever portray this good and decent man as such a vile human being. Stories of Romney’s personal charitable and humanitarian deeds have been blacked out by the media, and Romney, for some reason so inexplicable to supporters, refuses to tell these stories himself.
For example, how much have we heard of Melissa Gay? Melissa, the 14-year old daughter of a Bain partner, snuck out one night and boarded a train for New York, met up with two men and went to a rave party in the Bronx, where she took multiple doses of the drug Ecstasy. As days passed without police finding her, Robert Gay told Romney of his crisis. Within hours, Bain was shut down and the employees headed to New York on a manhunt for little Melissa Gay. Though Romney never took credit, Robert Gay later told reporters Romney was the only one he confided in, and it was Romney who organized and funded the search for, and the successful return of, his daughter, admitting that without Romney he’d likely have never seen his daughter again.
Another story regards Romney running for the Senate in 1994. Following a tour by incumbent Ted Kennedy, Romney made a campaign stop at a Boston shelter for homeless veterans. Kennedy’s tour was brief, a photo-op, but Romney took a tour and then spent almost another hour reviewing their books to better understand their financial situation. Asking manager Ken Smith what his biggest problem was, Smith replied “milk”; specifically, the cost of the 7000 pints of milk he bought weekly for the homeless veterans. The following Friday the milk arrived as usual, but the bill for the 7000 pints was half the normal price. Every week for two years, the milkman refused to reveal the identity of the benefactor. Only on the day of his retirement did he disclose Mitt Romney as the man who’d personally covered the cost.
These stories of Romney are the rule, not the exception. Romney inherited substantial wealth from his father, wealthy businessman and Michigan Governor George Romney, which he donated all to charity well before establishing his own personal wealth. His recently released his 2011 tax returns, the ones Harry Reid claimed would show Romney paid no taxes, revealed that not only did Romney give over $4 million to charity last year, but that he took no deductions for that charity, voluntarily paying a higher tax rate. He gave more than twice as much to charity as he paid in taxes, and he paid more in taxes than he was legally obligated to do. So much for Reid’s lies.
The history of Romney’s charity spans decades, though you’d be hard pressed to find reports of it, since the media isn’t interested in it and Romney won’t discuss it. Romney served as a Mormon missionary in France for 30 months, paying the cost himself. He also served as bishop of a ward (local congregation) over hundreds of people, later serving years as a stake president (comprised of nearly a dozen wards) over thousands. Both required much of his time, and neither was a paid position. This service was performed in addition to all of his official obligations.
Others blessed by Romney privately have come forth to testify of the goodness of this man vilified by the press, including Robert Morrissey, whose family was rescued in 2003 by a vacationing Mitt Romney and two of his sons. Hearing their screams from shore as Morrissey’s boat suddenly took on water and began to sink, Romney and sons grabbed jet skis and rushed to their aid. Other stories abound, from Mitt taking a load of firewood to a single mother whose heat had been shut off just before Christmas, to bringing a truckload of Christmas gifts (and a generous check) to a family swallowed up in debt following a terrible car accident.
Yet this is the man that the media tells us does not care about the poor and the needy, the downtrodden and hopeless; but they praise Barack Obama, who shared little of his personal wealth until he decided to run for president, and whose own brother continues to live in squalor in Africa.
The difference, I believe, lies in their philosophies. Both claim the Christian faith, and Christ’s commandment that we serve our fellow man. One achieves this end by using government force to fund bureaucratic welfare programs, the other by spending of his own time, talents, and wealth to help those in need.
Our nation is deeply divided nation, and many are close to despair, wondering if this great republican experiment in self-government is over. Today it does seem bleak. Yet just a few days ago I was reminded that hope is never lost when we trust in God. This reassurance came in the form of a celebration for former Georgia Governor Joe Frank Harris and the 30th anniversary of his long-shot emergence as victor from a crowded field of candidates.
What touched me most was the plentiful evidence of the trust in God relied on by the Governor, his family, and his campaign team. Having become close friends with his son these last two years, I’ve heard personal stories of the struggles his father faced in holding true to his faith while faced with the internal and external pressures of that powerful position. For example, he refused to serve alcohol in the Governor’s Mansion, even though he was told it would cost the state business because these business leaders expected it. He refused still, but managed to create 900,000 jobs during his term, a record still unmatched in Georgia. Even more of a testament to me is seeing the private side of his family, who quietly go about doing good for all they meet, and doing so without seeking accolades.
His son privately worried whether the community would come out to honor a man that served thirty years ago, and who has refused the spotlight since. He told me he just wanted to get at least 70 people to come for his father, and he would be happy. But Bartow showed they still remembered and loved this man who served so faithfully, and I watched as emotion overcame his wife, Elizabeth, as she looked upon the faces of over 400 assembled, giving her and the Governor a standing ovation. Because Joe Frank Harris honored his God, his state and community was richly blessed.
I truly believe, as dark as these days seem, there is hope for us still. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Lord says that “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Goodness, how we need healing. If we are willing to return to God, then we will witness a reversal of our current misfortunes because, as was the motto of the Harris campaign “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”