Sue Kingman (second from right) with her family. | Courtesy Sue Kingman
I was in my early 30s when I was left with two young boys to raise, ages 2 and 5, and seven cents in our savings. It was Christmas. I didn't know how I was going to make it without a job and two young boys to raise. But I went to church that Sabbath and tithed on that seven cents. Well, as best I could. It's hard to break a penny. I also gave a thank offering. It seemed I had little to be thankful for, but I knew if I remained faithful, God promised to bless.
It took very little time for my church family to learn about our plight. Groceries were left in my car, presents at my door, and envelopes filled with money showed up. People volunteered to take my boys for an afternoon or evening to give me a break. God gave me a job where I could work and still be available for my boys. When they got older and were both in school, I was able to get a teaching job in an Adventist school which helped with their tuition. Never once did I take my boys out of Adventist education to save money. God made it clear that He would never leave me nor forsake me, and if I trusted, His love would sustain us.
We eventually moved to a place where they could both attend academy and I would teach. My boys were always surrounded by positive, male role models, for which I was so grateful — pastors, youth leaders, teachers. For all that they lacked in a father, God amply compensated with men who showed my boys that, “The greatest want of the world is the want of men. Men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall” (Education, Ellen G. White, pg. 57).
I still teach. One son graduated from Andrews University and is now married. The other will graduate from Andrews this spring and will marry this summer. They are both very much aware of how God brought people into our lives that helped make those very difficult times much more bearable, using them as steppingstones that led us all to a closer walk with Him.
Both share a passion for helping others. Just this past Christmas, my oldest son showed me a brand new, expensive pair of sneakers, still in the box, that he had purchased. He bought them, intending to give them to someone who didn’t have any. They were size 11½. I thought, how are we going to find a foot-size-11½ person in all of these crowds? But we put them in the trunk and went shopping. We forgot about the sneakers. It was only on Christmas Eve, when we approached a mall entrance and came to a red light, that we saw a homeless man standing between two lanes of traffic. My son looked at him and said, “Nope, not 11½.” But, as the man walked away, my son took another glance and said, “He's 11½!” He rolled down the window and said, “Excuse me, what size shoe are you?” Well, you know exactly what the man said. Without hesitating, I got out of the car, ran to the trunk, took out the box, opened it and gave it to the man. You would have thought I had given him a million dollars! His eyes got wide and he said, “Are you kidding me? For me?!”
That's what I say to God, “Are you kidding me? For me? You did ALL of this for me?!”
Sue Kingman, principal and teacher of grades 3-5 at the Bay Knoll School in Rochester, New York, says she’s still trusting in God for everything.