Now that everyone is agreed the 21st century has arrived, perhaps persons can decide the top stories of the past century.
Now that the Christmas wrappings are disposed of and the New Year’s festivities
are complete, attention can turn to an annual pastime – selection of the top
story for the previous year.
What was it?
The election (finally) of a new president in the United States?
The slow – and often bloody – efforts at peace
in the Middle East?
Completion of the human genome pro-ject, providing a genetic
map of humans?
The Elian Gonzalez drama?
The Microsoft trial?
The Russian submarine tragedy?
The firing of the Taco Bell chihuahua as a fast food commercial
Or was it something else?
Certainly, the year 2000 offered its range of news and events,
including those of the wonderful, weird and wacky bent.
For instance, what other year can boast of having a magician
who encased himself inside a block of ice for 61 hours?
And what year can lay claim to the whole reality-based television
And before the year 2000, did anyone even know what a “chad”
“Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
“Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire?”
Who would give a million dollars for an end to such nonsense?
However, the year 2000 was not all insanity. There was drama
There was the presidential election in all its full-blown glory,
And there was the playing out of the Elian Gonzalez battle,
which eventually saw the six-year-old boy forcibly taken from American relatives
and returned to his father in Cuba.
There was the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, which killed 17 and
There was the death of “Peanuts” maestro Charles
And one cannot neglect the trials and tribulations in places
like Mozambique and Kosovo and Indonesia and the Sudan.
Neither can one forget the revolt against Serbian dictatorship,
the explosion of the Air France Concorde or Tiger Woods.
Indeed, there is plenty of possibilities when it comes to selecting
top stories – of serious or playful variety.
So, what was the top story?
It depends on the criteria used.
One could select stories based on scope – which event
involved the most people?
One also could select based on impact – which event affected
the most people?
Likewise, choices could be based on emotion – which event
moved people most?
Still, lists would differ.
After all, each person brings their own prejudices and perspectives
to the task.
What interests one does not interest another. What moves one
does not move another. What marks the passage of a year for one means nothing
at all to another.
For some, the year 2000 will be marked forever by something
personal – a birth, a death, a success, a failure, a change.
For many, the story of their year 2000 never will make headlines
or be known outside of their small realm.
For instance, not many people know Mike and Jane Nason. But
since 1985, the Tennessee Baptist couple has cared for more than 40 foster children,
including those no one else wants. Theirs is a story worth telling – and
A world away, Gentiana Thaqi probably could pick the story
of her year easily. It was the day the blankets came to towns, carried by Baptist
volunteers who were committed to helping Kosovo natives face a brutal winter.
A photograph shows a smiling 10-year-old Thaqi carrying an armload of quilts
back to her family.
Certainly, John Anthony Sheehan always will remember 2000 as
the year he received his bachelor’s degree – from the New Orleans
Baptist Theological Seminary extension center at the Louisiana State Penitentiary
R.C. and Lynda Branch always will remember 2000 as the year
they received their “miracle house” – built through the efforts
and donations of fellow Baptists determined to meet the needs of the retired
As he grows older, Phillip will remember 2000 as the year of
hope. The 12-year-old boy was headed for trouble, expelled from school, disrupted
by family turmoil. Then, a Christian Women’s Job Corps volunteer got involved.
Within months, the Baptist worker and others noticed a difference in Phillip.
By the end of several months, the boy had become a Christian – and been
rescued from an uncertain future.
The list could continue.
Story after story tells of Baptist relief work in places like
Mozambique and Honduras and Baptist ministry efforts in locations like Shreveport
and Covington, Ky.
The stories are all different – and all the same. They
involve different persons, engaging in different efforts.
But they all carry a common plot line – Baptist workers
doing whatever is necessary to meet the needs of others, Baptist workers doing
whatever is necessary to share the love of God with others.
Marianna Hensley is representative of them all as she holds
a Susu baby in a small West Africa village and administers needed medicine.
(See Page One photograph)
Hensley spent two years working among the Susu people, meeting
needs, offering a Christian witness. Because of her, lives were changed. People
were saved – physically and spiritually as well.
Because of thousands of others like Hensley, that story is
played out countless times in innumerable places – across the street as
well as around the world.
Because of thousands of workers and volunteers like Hensley,
blankets are delivered to the cold, food is delivered to the hungry, love is
shared with the lonely, hope is delivered to the lost.
Because of thousands upon thousands like Hensley, each year,
Baptists make a difference, life by life, need by need.
If one is looking for a story of the year, that is one that
should not be ignored.