The legacy of Michael Jackson
At Motown’s 25-year anniversary celebration Michael Jackson moonwalked his way right into the hearts and souls of millions. Questions like, “Did you see that?” and “How did he do that?” rang around the universe. And neither was his own family immune. They were as dazed and amazed as anyone else at the jaw-dropping stunt. Without a doubt, it was a most memorable occasion, nothing short of miraculous. And, speaking of miracles, if you ask ten people to define the world “miracle” you’d probably get ten different answers. The Bible immediately comes to mind when some think of a miracle. Take for instance the story of Jonah and the whale.
Even though the Bible doesn’t specifically say it was a whale, skeptics think the story a bit fishy anyway. (Jonah 1:17) In actuality, that a man can be swallowed whole by a great sea monster is well within the bounds of reality. Take the whale shark for example. In quoting National Geographic one magazine recounts: “‘The whale shark’s unusual digestive anatomy,’ reported National Geographic magazine, ‘lends itself to Jonah stories,’ referring to the Biblical incident about the prophet Jonah being swallowed by a great fish. Whale sharks have ‘a nonviolent way of getting rid of large objects of dubious digestibility they swallow accidentally.'” (As quoted in the December 2009, issue of Awake!, a magazine that Michael Jackson used to distribute from door to door.)
But a miracle doesn’t have to be restricted to events (or persons) chronicled in the Bible record. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a “miracle” can be “One that excites admiring awe.” By this definition, Michael Jackson was a moonwalking “miracle.” Furthermore, the sheer magnitude of his charitable acts–both known and unknown–are ‘miraculous’ in and of themselves. The following is the last in the three lists of “miracles” published in this column that Michael Jackson performed before what many see as his untimely, orchestrated, preventable death.
January 19, 1993: Michael is one of the stars that performs at the Presidential Inauguration of Bill Clinton. Before he sings Gone Too Soon he draws attention to the plight of AIDS victims and mentions his friend Ryan White.
January 26, 1993: At a press conference held at Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, Los Angeles, Michael is presented with a $200,000 donation from the National Football League and Super Bowl sponsors. He gets another $500,000 from the BEST Foundation for his “Heal The World” Foundation. At this occasion the foundation of “Heal L.A.” is officially announced.
February 1993: In association with computer game giant Sega, Michael launches an initiative to distribute more than $108,000 of computer games and equipment to children’s hospitals, children’s homes, and children’s charities throughout the U.K.
October 1993: Michael donates $100,000 to the Children’s Defense Fund, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, the Atlanta Project, and the Boys and Girl Clubs of Newark, New Jersey.
October 22, 1993: Michael visits a hospital in Santiago, Chile.
October 28, 1993: Michael makes it possible for 5,000 underprivileged children to visit the Reino Aventura Park where the whale Keiko (“Free Willy”) is living.
November 5, 1993: Michael is guest at a children’s party at the Hard Rock Cafe in Mexico City.
December 1993: With the backing of funds provided by Michael Jackson the Gorbachev Foundation airlifts 60,000 doses of children’s vaccines to Tblisi, Georgia.
June 21, 1996: Michael donated a four-time platinum disc of HIStory in aid of the Dunblane appeal at the Royal Oak Hotel, Sevenoaks in England.
July 18, 1996: In Soweto, South Africa Michael lays down a wreath of flowers for youngsters who have been killed during the fights involving Apartheid.
September 1996: Michael Jackson is a special guest at the first Sports Festival “Hope” event held for orphans and disadvantaged children. Up to 3,000 children and an additional 600 volunteers take part in the festival event.
September 6, 1996: Michael visits the children’s unit of a hospital in Prague. Though details are unclear, it appears that while there he launches the Michael Jackson International Book Club, which is part of his new Heal the Kids charity. The book club aims to promote childhood reading and encourages parents to return to reading bedtime stories to children.
September 15, 2002: Michael donates 16 exclusively autographed items consisting of CDs and videos (as well as two cotton napkins since there was nothing else to write on) to aid in the support of the victims of a severe flood in Germany. These items are auctioned off for charity and manage to raise several thousand dollars.
October 12, 2002: In showing his respect for the sacrifices military men and women make in behalf of their country Michael Jackson invites more than 200 Team Vandenberg members and their families to his Neverland Ranch. Vandenberg Air Force Base is relatively close to Neverland Ranch. Those invited have recently returned from overseas deployments.
November 21, 2002: Michael donates a jacket to The Bambi Charity Event in Berlin, Germany. The jacket goes for $16,000.
April 25, 2002: Michael Jackson performs at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, helping to raise nearly $3 million dollars towards voter registration.
June 2003: The Wolf family, who experienced serious damages to their belongings during the flood in Saxony, Germany in August 2002, is invited to Berlin by Michael while he’s at the Bambi Awards. He then invites them to Neverland where they spend three days meeting with Michael and his children.
When it comes to Michael Jackson’s enduring charitable works toward all God’s children I’m reminded of the Scripture text that reads: “God is always fair. He will remember how you helped his people in the past and how you are still helping them. You belong to God, and he won’t forget the love you have shown his people.” (Hebrews 6:10, Contemporary English Version) Neither will the persons who were on the receiving end of his charity forget his love.
And finally, won’t it be heartwarming when the words of Revelation 21:4 come to pass? Speaking of those who are suffering the pain of losing Michael (and countless others), it says that God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (New Living Translation) In the meantime stay up. Stay strong. And keep the faith. Amen.