A trip to town at least once a month to the bank, was a necessity for most missionaries. That was at the time Mission support notices were received, along with word that monthly funds had been deposited into ones personal bank account in the USA. US$ checks had to be deposited into a local bank account (they were happy to take the US$ checks!); then you had to wait at least a week for the $$$ to be exchanged into Tanzanian shillings – and credited to your account.
This time, as I went into the bank, the first thing I noticed was a school teacher from one of the church primary schools that I cared for. He was sitting on one of the customer benches, head in his hands, staring dejectedly at the floor. Beside him was a pile of little slips of paper on which he had written his signature.
“Metusela (Methusela), what is the problem?”, I asked. “I have a Savings Account and need some money and they won’t give it to me” he replied. Those little slips of paper beside him were samples of his signature on “Specimen Signature” forms the bank used to verify identity – and none of them matched the signature he had used when he first opened the account. Thus, he couldn’t access his money.
In those days it was ‘vogue” for a teacher to change his signature at least once a year. A new ink pen, a Tiku pen, had come onto the market and was very popular. Without going into details, it was a good pen and had a real fine point. Of course it was prone to blot if pressed too hard on the paper but if used right it could produce fine clear writing. Teachers used it and were impressed with the writing and curlicues and fancy script it could produce and they incorporated some of that into their signatures. What had happened to Metusela was that he couldn’t remember the signature he had used to open his account. He had tried again and again without success, thus the pile of “Specimen Signature” papers. None matched that initial signature!
I asked the Savings Account teller what I could do to help him. “Nothing”, I was told. “He has to produce a signature match. Maybe the bank manager can help”. I took Metusela to the manager, told him the problem and vouched for his identity. The manager brought the official bank documents which had his original account-opening signature and asked him to write and match that signature. Metusela had no trouble doing that; the signature matched and he got his money and he went home happy.
Those of us who know the Lord as Savior have had our names written down in the Lambs Book of Life. Not written by we ourselves but written by our God on the basis of what Christ has done for us. It takes no “signature remembering” by us – only faith and acceptance and trust in what has been done for us.
Praise the Savior, ye who know Him! Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him, All we are and have. Lyrics by Thomas Kelly