By David Faust
“It’s what Italians do,” he says when you dine at his home and he stuffs you with stuffed clams, pasta, and chicken cacciatore. His name is Modesto Sarno, but friends call him by his nickname, “Buddy.” He’s known to hundreds as, “Uncle Buddy.”
Buddy met Evelyn, the girl who eventually became his wife, while they were children growing up in Brooklyn, New York. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war ended, he and Evelyn married in 1946, then moved to Long Island and became members of Nesconset Christian Church, a new congregation planted by the Orchard Group (then known as Go Ye Chapel Mission).
Evelyn was a seamstress and Buddy made his living working for the Long Island Lighting Company, but their main goal was serving the Lord through their family and their church. At home they brought up a son, John, a daughter, Lisa, and they cared for five foster children, including a deaf child and another with cerebral palsy. In the church Buddy served as an elder and Evelyn served alongside him, often opening up their home to others in hospitality. (One evening they invited a young Long Island boy and his mom for dinner, and took them to church afterward. The boy grew up to be the famous musician, Billy Joel.)
Buddy participated in an amateur drama group on Long Island that performed original plays, raising money to support Catskill Christian Assembly, a church camp in upstate New York where the Sarnos frequently volunteered. On several occasions the Sarnos traveled to Mexico to serve in a children’s home. Buddy served on the Go Ye Chapel Mission board, and over the years he helped to plant 18 new churches in the New York area.
How Does Jesus Define Greatness?
The Sarnos understand a lesson Jesus’ original disciples struggled to grasp. On one occasion Jesus asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” Embarrassed, “they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest” (Mark 9:33, 34). Jesus told them, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (9:35).
The disciples, however, continued to resist the call to servanthood. One chapter later, James and John ambitiously asked Jesus if they could sit at his right and at his left in glory (Mark 10:37). The Lord responded, “You don’t know what you are asking” (v. 38). They should expect to suffer, he explained, but they shouldn’t strive for places of honor. Jesus noted that it’s common in secular society for rulers to “lord it over” others and boss them around. ”Not so with you,” he said (v. 43). “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (v. 44). Strive for power and prestige? Jesus’ words are clear: “Not so with you.” Seek personal recognition and honor? Push people around so you can get your own way? “Not so with you.”
Buddy and Evelyn moved to Cincinnati last year. After settling into their apartment they immediately started attending Bridgetown Church of Christ nearby. Nathan Hardesty, the church’s senior minister, told me that on their first Sunday at Bridgetown, Buddy approached him, extended his hand, and asked, “How may we help you?”
That’s what servants do.
1. Who in your circle of friends has consistently demonstrated a lifestyle of service?
2. Do you think others would readily describe you as a servant? Why, or why not?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for May 5, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Corinthians 15:29–58
Ruth 2, 3
1 Corinthians 16
2 Corinthians 1:1–11
1 Samuel 1, 2
2 Corinthians 1:12–24
1 Samuel 3—5
2 Corinthians 2
1 Samuel 6—8
2 Corinthians 3
1 Samuel 9, 10