The Ripple Effect

By Jeremy Griffin

It's a cool September morning around 6:00am. Your sitting on the ground next to a still Midwestern pond. The water is like glass and though it is beautiful, you just can't resist tossing a small rock into the water. It's so easy to appreciate the symmetry and the ultimate mixture of science and art as we see liquid dynamics and cause and effect at work.


This "ripple effect" can be seen, in all it's beauty, in relationships all around us. It's in the friendly smile you give a stranger. Its in the door you hold open for the elderly gentlemen. It's in the wind blown $20 bill you help chase down for the 12 year old kid. It really is everywhere.

In 1992 there were a couple of young men who loved to play music and dreamed of playing in front of thousands of people in worship events, youth camps, and churches. Wayne was a very talented drummer and Thomas was a singer/song writer who played piano. They attended a quaint little church with about 50 people in Sunday attendance. One day, an elderly women named Pamela approached the two boys with a request. She had written a poem and asked if they could put the poem to music. The boys responded pleasantly enough but on the inside were a bit too proud and maybe even just a bit skeptical about the poem. Thomas assured Pamela he would take a look at it and would give it a shot but made no promises. Thomas took the paper with the poem on it and brought it home with him and sat it on his piano.

After a few weeks had passed, one evening, the young song writer found himself sitting down to work on new music and realized he was blocked. So in desperation he reached for the poem Pamela had wrote and began to add a melody and chord progression. After an hour or so he had a finished work!

A few weeks later, the two young men were scheduled to sing and minister one Sunday evening and so they decided to play and sing this new song as a surprise for Pamela. As they were about to play the song they announced to the congregation that it had been written by her and they began to play her song. She was moved as was the rest of the congregation and that was one "ripple".

This simple act, that really was a move of desperation became a point of giving and love that had a pretty significant and lasting effect. But as with tossing a rock into still water, there were more ripples to come.

Time moved on and so did these two young men. In pursuit of their calling and dreams they found themselves a couple years later at a much larger church, ministering in worship on a weekly basis and "living the dream". One day the two men received word that Pamela had been diagnosed with cancer. At the time the guys were recording some music with their band and decided they were going to record the poem/song for her in hopes it might lift her spirits. So they recorded it (on to cassette tape) and sent it off in the mail.

A few weeks later the two received a letter back from the Pamela and her husband John telling them what the recording had done for her. They said that everyday, after the chemo-therapy they would sit in their car and listen to the song and worship the Lord. It was not only lifting her spirits but building her faith and aiding in her recovery. Pamela's cancer eventually went into remission and that was another "ripple".

Once again, a tiny investment of time that was really a convenient after-thought caused another significant "ripple" in her life. Not only in hers but in her husband John's as well. It provided hope and encouragement. It reminded them that God was ever present and with them.

The next time Thomas and Wayne heard anything about this sweet elderly women was in 2008. Many years had now passed and both young men were now in their 30's and had families. The news came down that the elderly women had passed away...

Even though they had not really kept up with her or her life they had a very special place in their heart for her and were not going to miss the funeral for the world.

Upon arriving to the funeral the two men and their wives were shocked to see so many teenage and young adults in the crowd. There were about 400 people there and nearly half were under the age of 25. This was a bit strange for a funeral for a women, who by this time, was in her late 70's. They found their seats and waited patiently for the service to begin.

Right before the service began the music switched from the more traditional hymns to a surprisingly familiar song. The song that had been at the center of the relationship between these young men and this sweet women was playing! Both Thomas and Wayne struggled to keep their disposition and not get too upset but ultimately succumbed to a steady stream of tears. Not only from the beginning of the understanding of what this song really meant to Pamela and John but also from a bit of embarrassment as things don't tend to sound quite as good as you might have thought they did 15 years ago.

After the song had completed, the Pastor of the church stood up and read the eulogy of this dear sweet women and then announced that they would not be preaching a message but telling a story. Telling a story of two young men. Telling the story that I have just told you...

As the Pastor approached the end of this story his words revealed to the two men why there were so many young people. He said, "As a direct result of two teenage boys' unselfish acts of service, Pamela McNeely poured her remaining years into the lives of countless young adults and her impact will be felt for years to come."....that was the next "ripple" and countless "ripples" will follow as those Pamela McNeely gave so much too will in turn give to those around them.

You see, like the stone in the water, even the smallest of acts have lasting effects but unlike the stone in water, those acts will radiate in perpetuity. Take time to love, to give, and to make positive change in someone around you.