A Good Illustration Can Kill You

I sat down at my computer to find the perfect Paul Harvey story.  This came up in the top returns on Google:

A Great Paul Harvey Story!!

Here is a true story by Paul Harvey. Pass it to anyone who you think would find it interesting and inspiring. You will be surprised who this young man turned out to be. (Do not look at the bottom of this letter until you have read it fully.)

Years ago a hardworking man took his family from New York State to Australia to take advantage of a work opportunity there. Part of this man’s family was a handsome young son who had aspirations of joining the circus as a trapeze artist or an actor.

This young fellow, biding his time until a circus job or even one as a stagehand came along, worked at the local shipyards which bordered on the worst section of town.

Walking home from work one evening this young man was attacked by five thugs who wanted to rob him. Instead of just giving up his money the young fellow resisted. However they bested him easily and proceeded to beat him to a pulp. They mashed his face with their boots, and kicked and beat his body brutally with clubs, leaving him for dead.

When the police happened to find him lying in the road they assumed he was dead and called for the Morgue Wagon.  On the way to the morgue a policeman heard him gasp for air, and they immediately took him to the emergency unit at the hospital.

When he was placed on a gurney a nurse remarked to her horror, that this young man no longer had a face. Each eye socket was smashed, his skull, legs, and arms fractured, his nose literally hanging from his face, all his teeth were gone, and his jaw was almost completely torn from his skull.

Although his life was spared he spent over a year in the hospital. When he finally left, his body may have healed but his face was disgusting to look at. He was no longer the handsome youth that everyone admired.

When the young man started to look for work again he was turned down by everyone just on account of the way he looked. One potential employer suggested to him that he join the freak show at the circus as “The Man Who Had No Face.”

He did this for a while. He was still rejected by everyone and no one wanted to be seen in his company. He had thoughts of suicide. This went on for five years.

One day he passed a church and sought some solace there. Entering the church he encountered a priest who had seen him sobbing while kneeling in a pew.

The priest took pity on him and took him to the rectory where they talked at length. The priest was impressed with him to such a degree that he said that he would do everything possible for him that could be done to restore  his dignity and life, if the young man would promise to be the best Catholic he could be, and trust in God’s  mercy to free him from his torturous life.

The young man went to Mass and communion every day, and after thanking God for saving his life, asked God to give him peace of mind and the grace to be the best man he could ever be in His eyes.

The priest, through his personal contacts was able to secure the services of the best plastic surgeon in Australia. There would be no cost to the young man, as the doctor was the priest’s best friend.

The doctor too was so impressed by the young man, whose outlook now on life, even though he had experienced the worst was filled with good humor and love.

The surgery was a miraculous success. All the best dental work was also done for him. The young man became everything he promised God he would be. He was also blessed with a wonderful, beautiful wife, and many children, and success in an industry which would have been the furthest thing from his mind as a career if not for the goodness of God and the love of the people who cared for him.

This he acknowledges publicly. The young man was and is…………………………..

Mel Gibson.

His life was the inspiration for his production of the movie “The Man Without A Face.” He is to be admired by all of us as a God fearing man, a political conservative, and an example to all as a true man of courage.

And to think I admired him before I knew any of this! He is quite a man!

Paul Harvey

I love the story, and it would make a great sermon illustration, but something just didn’t sit right about it. It’s almost too good to be true.

I have followed Mel Gibson for a while now and never heard this story–of course I have never heard most of Paul Harvey’s stories. But further research revealed a website which claims 99% of the story is……..not true! It even claimed that Paul Harvey did not tell this story.

I won’t spend the time tracking down the details. But this morning’s search for a good illustration did remind me how careful preachers and teachers have to be when using the internet to find illustrations.

With the eternal importance of the Gospel message, we must not allow the desire for a good illustration to kill our credibility.

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