How did a former drug addict and hardworking fisherman with little education get 4,369 Facebook friends? Why did over 200 people come to an unpretentious church in a steel clad warehouse to celebrate his life ? Why did the Siletz Tribe send their best singers and drummers to honor this white man?
Everyone there knew of the lives Josh Porter had changed forever among fishermen, criminals, drug addicts, and many more. He had never been known to boast of any special ability, no less of saving lives. Yet when the program turned to “Stories and Memories” the first two volunteer speakers were a boy from middle school to say how Josh always made him feel good, and a young man with Down’s syndrome who said how his giant friend always made him feel warm. Then followed many men and women who said, “He saved my life.” They meant it in the most literal sense.
After the service everyone stacked and cleared the chairs and rolled out tables and sat down for a sumptuous supper. I dined with a woman and her 15 year old daughter and with a 40ish couple. All three adults told me how important Josh had been in saving them and their families from addiction. The man who had spent half his life in prison for burglary, robbery and car theft to get drug money is now a licensed contractor and just bought a house for his family. The mother of the teenage girl is about to get her diploma in social work.
No newspaper wrote about Josh except three weeks ago when they ran the story that a 20 ft wave had overturned the F/V Mary B II as it tried to cross the bar. They were coming home with a load of crab at night and one of the dead was a crewman named Josh Porter. Several newspapers and TV stations ran stories three more lives lost at sea. I saw no news media at today’s service. Perhaps they don’t think they will find stories in an evangelical church in a warehouse. They missed story after story about a quiet hero.
Has America ever been more in need of such heroes? In the lines below, the “Master” whose hand plays the violin and touches lives is probably God, but today the hand that men and women and children in South Beach Church felt in their lives was Josh Porter’s.
The Touch of the Master’s Hand
—Myra “Brooks” Welch
’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine;
A game—and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand
I just would like to say that the article posted on Feb 3, written by Wallace Kaufman has really touched my heart. Nobody could have said it better. Josh was a true Hero who touched many souls. I thank you for acknowledging this, writing this, and posting for all to see. Gone but never forgotten. Rest in Peace Josh Porter. Thank you again, Wallace.