Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 1, 2008

Calvin’s Tears

   Every now and then it happens — you meet someone whose life has a measurable impact on your own. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, your mind easily convinces your heart that the encounter is something worth treasuring. That’s what happened when I met Calvin Fox in the Khondhamal Hills of India. Here was a man whose unassuming presence was the perfect cover for profound depth. The few days I spent in his company stirred my life and continue to ripple across the surface of my memory.

   Calvin was an Arkansas farm boy who sensed God’s call to ministry at an early age. A mission trip to the Philippines in 1962 solidified his call to become an agriculturalist — a missionary farmer. Calvin returned home, completed his studies, and married Margaret, a young girl from Paris … Arkansas. In 1967, with Margaret at his side, he returned to the Philippines where he served as the extension director for the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center. Calvin taught Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) to farmers trying to eke out a living on erosion ravaged hillsides.

   At the age of 55, Calvin and Margaret left their home in the Philippines and moved to one of the poorest and most difficult tribal areas of India. When I met Calvin and Margaret, they were living in a 320 square-foot house surrounded by Calvin’s outdoor classroom for tribal farmers — his small demonstration farm. Calvin compassionately taught these subsistence farmers how to increase their yield by using SALT methods. His incarnational life and practical work transformed countless lives.

   I had traveled to India to lead a team of prayer-walkers and was fortunate to have Calvin serve as our guide. That’s when I noticed something unusual about him. Every time Calvin would speak to us about the people in the hills, he wept. I am not talking about sobbing or wailing, just quiet tears glistening on his tanned and weathered cheeks. It happened every time. I remember thinking, “Wow! He’s been on the mission field for more than half my lifetime and he still weeps for the people. He has not grown accustomed to the lostness that surrounds him. Like Jesus, he feels compassion for these people who are distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36).”

   The presence of Calvin’s tears caused me to question the absence of my own. I love God and I care about lost humanity too, but I do not weep like Calvin. In fact, I have never met anyone who does. Psalm 126:5-6 states, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Every good farmer knows the importance of watering his crops. Calvin’s tears watered a spiritual crop that yielded three church-planting movements that produced almost 1,000 new churches among three people groups. Amazing!

   Calvin died of a heart attack at his home in Gentry, Arkansas on December 14, 2003. I wept at the news of his death.


Responses

  1. wow. very moving sir.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I want to be more like Calvin. Way to go Omar!

  3. Omar,

    I saw your blog post “Calvin’s Tears” on another site and must say that it is a very touching article. Regarding tears, it always concerns me when someone tells me they have not shed a tear in years. Now this is my feminine side, but what good are they if we don’t use them? smile

    As a nurse I have cried with many of my clients when they have shared bad news or recounted how their medical crisis has changed their family, career or shattered a dream. I think our tears remind us of our own humanity. Thank you for a beautiful post.

    Tammy Swofford

  4. Omar … you have always had a way of bringing to life the reality that we must make the most of the moment God gives us. Thank you for always challenging us to do more, go farther, work harder!

    God bless you in your journeys~
    Celia


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