by Tony Nester

This content is part of a series.

Everyone Mature In Christ (9 of 18)
Tony Nester
Colossians 1:28 -2:3

Those who work with disadvantaged young people often
work against enormous odds. One of nation's unsung
heroines has been Mary Taylor Previte who has been the
Director of the Camden County Youth Center in
Blackwood, New Jersey. In her book, Hungry Ghosts, she
shares the stories of children who have grown up
alone, surrounded by violence and hatred. She reveals
the ways she and her staff have been able to help many
of them to make a fresh start and become contributing
members of society.

One reason why Mary Taylor Previte has been effective
with troubled youth is because she herself had to get
through very difficult experiences when she was
growing up. When she was a child she was held prisoner
along with her parents and other British subjects by
the Japanese when Japan invaded China. The prisoners
organized a makeshift school for the children. Among
the adult prisoners was a teacher, a Miss Beatrice
Stark, and Mary Taylor Previte was one of her students
in that prison school. She describes the transforming
impact this teacher had on her in these words:

Astonishing. Here is this prim and proper spinster
teacher, Miss Beatrice Stark, and she would be
standing right there at these long tables and benches
in the mess hall of a concentration camp and we could
be eating stewed animal food out of a soap dish or a
tin can and here would be Miss Stark standing beside
me saying, "Mary Taylor, put your back up straight. Do
not talk while you have food in your mouth. There are
not two sets of rules, one for the princesses in
Buckingham Palace... and another set of rules for the
Weihsien Concentration Camp. God is not honored by
rudeness." Here we would be in the midst of a crowded
concentration camp mess hall eating glop, and we had
to have the manners of ladies and gentleman. But you
know what? That poured a feeling de ...

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