Forgotten Heroes

By Mark Atteberry

Philo T. Farnsworth.

You should know who he is.

You don’t, but you should.

He made a gigantic contribution to mankind, one that most people experience every single day, often for hours at a time. But I suspect you couldn’t find one person out of a thousand who could tell you what he did.

On January 7, 1927, Mr. Farnsworth, then a 19-year-old farm boy, filed a patent on an invention called “television.” A few years later, he transmitted a Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, from his Philadelphia laboratory to his home a few miles away. Ironically, the man who invented the technology was forgotten, but the character that appeared on the screen became world famous.

The next time you gather with your family or friends to watch the big game, giggle at the silliness of Barney Fife, or steal a recipe from one of your favorite TV chefs, you’ll have ole Philo to thank. But you won’t. Nor will I. Most of us live so much for the moment that we don’t think about—nor do we care about—the pioneers that went before us. We just like their stuff.

With few exceptions, most of the world’s greatest contributors end up like Philo T. Farnsworth. For every Abraham Lincoln or Alexander Graham Bell, there are a thousand brilliant inventors, scientists, pioneers, and humanitarians who are long forgotten. Quick . . . can you remember who invented the refrigerator? Eyeglasses? The washing machine? The indoor toilet? Probably not, but I’m guessing you’d hate to do without their contributions!

This is why we need to share in the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. It’s the best way to ensure that Jesus doesn’t ever become like Philo T. Farnsworth. By taking a few moments to think about his sacrifice on the cross and by eating the bread and drinking the juice, we are proclaiming his death until he comes again, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:26. As long as God’s people are continually proclaiming his death—the single greatest sacrifice in all of history and the key to our redemption—it will never be forgotten


Mark Atteberry is senior minister with Poinciana Christian Church, Kissimmee, Florida.

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