Written by Pam Walck
Give away my keyboard, are you kidding me? That’s pretty expensive, definitely in the thousand dollar range. An hour earlier, I looked around my spare bedroom and my eyes came to rest on the keyboard. Looking at it, I felt inspired—almost God-driven to give the musical instrument to Emily. That’s pretty scary, I thought, even operating in faith as I barely knew her.
I met Emily at the previous Saturday night’s coffee house through our singles ministry at the church I attend, The Chapel. I went with a few friends hoping to have some fun and meet some new people. After walking in, I saw a woman about nineteen, tall and slender with light brown hair, sitting off to the side with a guitar. Later on in the evening she played solo for us.
It was an amazing night, listening to Emily, both playing the guitar singing and giving us her story. At eighteen years of age living in Lancaster, New York, she had just graduated from high school and been offered a music scholarship to a wonderful college with her specialty. As she sat on the train about to embark on her new adventure, she thought, I never asked God what He wanted for me, only what I thought to do. Emily didn’t have a peace that this was the path God had chosen for her, so she gave up the scholarship.
After prayer and some searching, Emily ended up going to Ghana, West Africa, to study at a Christian music school. When I met Emily that evening at the coffeehouse, she had returned to the Buffalo area on a school break to visit her family.
As I sat listening to Emily, my tears flowed like a river. Wow, I thought, she is really pursuing Jesus. I’m so impressed and wish I had that kind of faith. I kept putting my hand over my eyes, I was so embarrassed and surprised by the many joy-filled emotions I had for her wisdom in being true to Jesus and not her-self interests.
I knew she was in town for another week, so my friend Laurie and I went to see her at another coffeehouse in Buffalo. Her mother accompanied her, playing the drums. Same thing, tears flowed from me, listening to her.
Now as I sat in my apartment looking over at the keyboard, I thought, it is scary to give something so expensive away, but why not? I don’t use the keyboard anymore. I took lessons for three months from my sister-in-law Terry who taught piano, but just wasn’t into it.
During the lesson time, Terry gave me several compliments and said if I stuck with it, I would probably do pretty well. However, I didn’t enjoy it. It took a lot of practice, as does anything we learn that’s new. Now in my thirties, I wanted to use my time in a different way–go to the gym, visit friends, volunteer. Had I taken lessons when I was younger, perhaps then I would have had the motivation to learn the instrument. So I stopped the lessons and was glad I did—it was almost a relief for me. And now, for over a year, the keyboard sat in my second bedroom with a blanket covering it.
I was so riveted by Emily’s story that I called her to stop over my apartment as I wanted to make a small donation for her education in Africa. That to me alone was a leap in faith for me—as I had never wanted to donate money to anyone like this. She had mentioned at the coffeehouse that both she and the school were in need of funds.
I reached for the telephone to call her a second time, “Emily, are you possibly interested in a keyboard for you or the school in Africa?”
“Sure we could always use one–as long as I can get it on the plane!”
Later, she came bouncing in the door with a big smile on her face out of the rainy murky weather outside. By that time, I had found the box the keyboard came in.
“That’s a great keyboard. I’ll manage to get it to Ghana somehow.”
Emily and I talked sporadically via email over the next ten years. I even sold some of her CDs—“Playtime”– in 2002, at my job, helping to promote her music. Many people, including myself, loved her voice, the African music and the lyrics.
It’s funny– once in while I thought of the keyboard and hoped it had been put to good use. I thought it was God prompting me to move me into action by giving it to her, but I wasn’t totally positive. The situation, though, seemed to make sense, so I stepped out in faith.
When my old boyfriend, who had given the keyboard to me as a present, found out months later that I had donated it to an African school, he wasn’t too happy about it. But it was my gift, anyway, and I didn’t expect him to understand. We had grown apart and he didn’t seem to really care about Christ’s will in his life.
About a year ago, I received a very unusual email from someone I didn’t know. A man from the School of Worship (YWAM) in Ghana, Reverend Nicholas Oddoye, told me how the keyboard had finally worn out and he thanked me for the use of it. I was astounded; Emily must have given him my email address.
Tears welled up in my eyes. Ten years ago I gave that away! And all those years students were able to use it, much more than I ever would have.
It’s amazing how God used something like my own inspiration to choose to help others for His glory. And even though I may never have found out the results until Heaven, it inspired me to live even more by faith. “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” says Matthew 6:20-21.
Emily R. Skinner now goes by Adjoa Skinner—her Ghanaian name.