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Sunday Night Football and Mr. Stroup

by Craig Gross on September 26th, 2011 in The Haps

I spent Saturday and Sunday in Indianapolis with my friend Matt Shatto, who is one of the best people I know. He is from Indiana and we spent the last couple of days watching football in our hotel room, at the sports bar, and at Lucas Oil Filed last night. We also did a lot  work on our ministries budget for 2012, since Matt serves as the treasurer on our board of directors.

During our last breakfast together before we both headed to the airport, Matt mentioned he was going to make a stop off at Heritage Christian School . Matt went to 7th and 8th grade there in Indianapolis. I would pay a visit to my old Christian school if I was in town and had a truck load of toilet paper to TP it . That was a joke.

We got to the school and it had changed since Matt had been attending there. He is 30-years old now. Remember that later. 8th grade was a long time ago for Matt.

We checked in at the front desk and had to exchange our keys for a visitor pass.  Mr. Stroup teaches Bible to 7th and 8th graders. He has done this for over 30 years at this school. The school now has about 1,300 students. So, quite large for a Christian school. Matt walked in as the 8th graders were leaving for lunch and Mr. Stroup said, “Matt Shatto”.

He invited us into his classroom where we took over his lunch period and just talked.

I was a junior high pastor for a couple of years. None of my friends from my youth ministry days or my college days that studied youth ministry are still doing youth ministry. They have all moved on to become lead pastors or take on other roles in the church besides youth.

Matt asked Mr. Stroup, “What’s the one thing you have learned after all these years that doesn’t change within the school realm?” He said, “Students are all the same this year and every year…they just want to know you love them and enjoy spending time with them. That’s it.”

Matt said, “I knew that back in 8th grade and I still know that today.”

Matt’s family moved when he was in 9th grade to Pennsylvania, so he was only at this school for a brief period of time. Matt does not play in the NFL or NBA, so his jersey is not retired at the school. Matt owns a trucking company 5 hours away, but wanted to come say hi.

Because….

Every year since 8th grade, Matt has received a birthday card in the mail from Mr. Stroup.

Matt just turned 30 and on his most recent card, Mr Stroup wrote, “I thought of you and your company with gas prices being so high.” These are not birthday cards you get from Southwest Airlines or your local dentist. Mr. Stroup takes time to write something special, so he conveys he cares.

I asked him, “How do you do it?”  Logistically speaking that is. I mean do the math, you know how many kids and how many birthdays that is. You know how much money that is in postage? You know how long that probably takes? You know the salary of Christian school teachers? He told me, “It gets easier over the years with technology, I have a database now that I keep addresses updated and a system in place.”

Impressive. Life giving. Selfless. Serving. Life changing.

I listened in on two adults catching up today and talk about the Lord, work, their families and was reminded that we need to take time with each other. When’s the last time you gave up lunch to just sit and talk with a friend or a child in need? When’s the last time you texted someone that has been on your mind and just told them you have been thinking about them? When’s the last time you got away with a friend and shared a weekend together and shared your friends with their friends?

We left the classroom and I looked at the lightswitch in his room. Written with a sharpie on the light switch cover were the words “Bible is Fun” in blue ink.

I am sure Mr. Stroup teaches a fun class and these kids have fun learning about the Bible, but as they become adults they will see that Mr Stroup does way more then just “teach” Bible.

I guess NBC heard about this as well. Here is the story.

 

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