Psa 37:24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. (KJV)
Psa 37:24 Even if he has a fall he will not be without help: for the hand of the Lord is supporting him. (Basic English Bible)
It was 37 years ago today on March 13, 1986, shortly after 7:15 am, that I was not just “cast down,” I was shot down by an unknown assailant wielding a 9 millimeter handgun. I was shot at point-blank range in the back of my head.
I fell flat into the melting snow and mud of the teachers’ parking lot of Southeastern High School. I was robbed of what little cash I carried–33 dollars. My assailant was upset, saying “Is that all the money you teachers carry?” I refused to hand over my wallet, placing it back in my pocket. My ears were ringing. I did not even notice that my glasses had been knocked off by my fall.
The athletic director brought my broken glasses to me when he visited me in the hospital that morning. He was the one who called an ambulance and, assisted by my physics science teacher friend, Mr. Hackett, carried me to the back of the awaiting ambulance to the jeers of mocking students who saw me.
Mr. Hackett, upset by the despicable and disrespectful attitude of the students, tendered his resignation effective two weeks later. The young lady who processed his paperwork was saddened to learn of what happened to me. I had been her English teacher at Cass Technical High School, also in Detroit.
Mr. Hackett retrieved my teaching materials from my locked classroom closet in room 307 at Southeastern High School. I picked them up some while later from his law office. I am grateful for his help. Not long before, I had told Mr. Hackett of my new project of developing a new and corrected edition of the original Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. I had remarked that I was about 20% of the way through the task of typing it up. I had asked him to read the “Introduction” and “How to Use This Book” sections of the front matter. He said he thought what I had written should be understandable to any reader. I have never forgotten his comment, “It’s not done until it’s all done.”
Under my doctor’s guidance, I remained away from teaching until the fall of 1990. During that time I finished typing what became The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. It was ultimately published by Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Bible publisher, thanks to Phil Stoner. Mr. Stoner also arranged for my greatly expanded edition of these cross references to be published as a premium module titled The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury for the free e-Sword Bible software.
This month, a newly improved edition of my New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is now available in printed book form anywhere books are sold, including on line at Amazon and Christian Book Distributors (CBD). It is also available in digital format.
Being shot in the teachers’ parking lot on the way into school is not a fun experience. Things did not always go well the next few years. I had accrued well over a hundred “catastrophe days,” sick days accumulated over many years of teaching above and beyond the maximum that could be accrued in my “sick bank.” I had perfect attendance for many, many years. By contract provision, those days were to be used first in the event of a school-related accident or catastrophe that prevented me from teaching. The Detroit Board of Education refused to draw upon my bank of “catastrophe days” first as the contract clearly stipulated.
My paychecks were initially sent to the wrong school so I did not get them until many weeks later. One time the Board of Education attempted to take back my paycheck by recalling money deposited in my Detroit Teachers Credit Union account. Fortunately, my wife had already accessed these funds and withdrew them before they could be withdrawn. We abruptly closed the credit union account so that could not happen again. These kinds of mishandling of pay due me continued for several years. Finally, the school board took me to court, stating that I hated blacks and that I hated teaching.
I called my former student, Pastor Emery Moss, Jr., to ask for prayer regarding my court appearance. Pastor Moss said, “Absolutely not. I am not just going to pray for you, I am going to be there myself.” Pastor Moss’s wife sat with my wife while Pastor Moss, my attorney, and I were called to a hearing. When Pastor Moss heard the charge by the Board of Education attorney, Pastor Moss politely but firmly dressed him down in a hurry. Pastor Moss related how he went with me to the Green Tree Coffee House on the west side inner city of Detroit on Saturdays when I tutored black students for free using my reading program.
Pastor Moss related how his parents would never allow him as a teenager to enter that neighborhood unless he was in the company of Mr. Smith. “Yet, here was Mr. Smith, week after week, giving of his time to enter this dangerous neighborhood unafraid to help these students improve their reading skills.” Pastor Moss went on to say that a charge that Mr. Smith hates blacks is nonsense. Pastor Moss said, “I could fill this court’s auditorium with former students of his that I know personally who would testify that Mr. Smith loves teaching and loves his black students.”
Then Pastor Moss concluded by testifying that he is an expert witness on the subject of race relations. He stated he has been an instructor teaching race relations at Selfridge Airforce Base for over twenty years. Pastor Moss said, “What I know about race relations I first learned from Mr. Smith.”