T. B. Maston Foundation T. B. Maston tbmaston.org

proclaiming the abiding relevance of the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ . . .

and providing financial support for the study and application of Christian Ethics

 

"Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." (I John 2:6)
T. B. Maston: The Man, His Family, and His Ministry (continued)
by A. Jase Jones

(Part 2 of 3)

Beginning of a Lifetime of Ministry
(Continued)

Little did they know that they would spend the rest of their lives in Fort Worth and at the seminary. Dr. Maston said that as the time of their graduation neared, he was walking on campus and Dr. L. R. Scarborough, Southwestern's president, walked up beside him and told him that the seminary would like for him and Mrs. Maston to consider staying and teaching. So, from that time until Dr. Maston retired at the end of the spring semester in 1963, their lives were spent on Seminary Hill close by the seminary. In retirement, Dr. Maston maintained an office at the seminary, and the family continued living in their home of many decades.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Maston taught in the field of religious education in the beginning of their careers. In a few years, they decided that they would begin their family, and Mrs. Maston retired from teaching. She had a very promising career ahead of her in her field, but they felt that that must wait.

Tom Mc: Ministering in His Own Way

Any account of the Maston family is incomplete without an introduction to Tom Mc, the elder son. Tom Mc was a vibrant human being, although severely handicapped. From birth and throughout his life, he could not talk, and he had no use of his arms or his legs. He was completely helpless. Yet, all who knew him were forever influenced by him, boy and man. Mr. Bruner Lee, whose father was a student in Southwestern Seminary in the 1920s, and whose family lived next door to the Mastons, wrote when he learned of Tom Mc's death in 1987, "How marvelous that God can use a man who never spoke a word to touch so many lives. The Lee pair are among them."

The Maston family cannot be adequately understood until one knows their lifelong care for Tom Mc and their treatment of him as a conscious human being. And this was done while both Dr. and Mrs. Maston continued to serve God, their denomination, and their country in most exemplary ways. The Mastons never institutionalized Tom Mc. God had given them this precious life, and they devoted their lives to his care, mother, father, and brother.

Mrs. Maston, naturally, spent more time with him than the others, but the other two did their part when at home. Dr. Maston was careful to take as much of this responsibility as he could, especially so that Mrs. Maston could be free to participate in outside activities. For example, he planned his schedule during the year the Baptist World Congress met in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1947 so that he could be at home and Mrs. Maston could attend the Congress and tour England and some of Europe.

Mrs. Maston was a very able teacher. For several decades, she taught an adult women's Bible class at nearby Gambrell Street Baptist Church. She faithfully visited, as Dr. Maston wrote in Mommie (a book he wrote as a tribute to Mrs. Maston), "the old, the ill, the lonely, the forgotten." These were not members of Gambrell Street Baptist Church only but also people of any or no religious affiliation who were in need.

To be certain that Tom Mc is seen as a real person and not as "different," be assured that he had his own attractive personality. He had a wonderfully warm and bright smile. When my wife, Vivian, and I visited the Mastons, or they visited us in Kansas City, Missouri, and Marble Falls, Texas, we greeted him as naturally as we did anyone else. Vivian, in particular, would go over to Tom Mc in his wheelchair, pat him on his shoulder, and say, looking him in the face, "Hello, Tom Mc, darling, how are you?" That smile would come on his face, and he would twist his body in pleasure.

His mind was alive, too. Mrs. Maston told Vivian that she was convinced that there was a mind locked up inside him. She also referred to the times she had stood in her garden and wept because he was unable to express himself on what must have been in that mind. His mind was active, though. He knew what television programs he liked, and he could make known his displeasure over the ones he did not like. He liked to sit in his wheelchair in the yard and watch people and cars go by while Dr. Maston worked in the yard.

 

Essie Mae Maston: Giving All of Herself

I have said so much about Tom Mc because I am leading up to say something about Mrs. Maston. Following its annual custom of honoring outstanding Southwestern Seminary graduates, the seminary named Mrs. Maston as one of the honorees. At the dinner when the awards were presented, I talked with Mrs. Maston. Her words went something like this, "I don't know why I'm sitting up here with all these accomplished people. I've never done anything." My response is that she is a living example of the heart of the Christian gospel. Really, she had done more than most any of us. She forgot self, or, in Jesus' words, she denied self, and this not only in relation to God, but also in relation to other persons. She personified selflessness. She, and all of the Mastons, mustered all of their spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional resources to provide for Tom Mc a family environment as loving and supportive as humanly possible. To them, he was a person real and treasured.

Indelibly etched on my memory is an event that occurred not long after Tom Mc's passing in the fall of 1987 and Dr. Maston's passing in the spring of 1988. I forget the exact circumstances, but Vivian and I were in Fort Worth and had been somewhere with Mrs. Maston. When we returned to her home, both Vivian and I accompanied her to the door. As she started to enter her home, she turned and said, "I've lost my family," her eyes, her facial features, and her voice reflecting the wrenching pain in spirit, mind, and body caused by her new circumstances. When she said "my family," she was not deliberately omitting Gene; she was just referring to the ones left at home who had been her special care in their illness for so many years. I can never forget the look on her face that can best be described only as one of devastation. Of course, after my loss of Vivian two years ago, I can better understand that sense of irremediable loss she was feeling.

Dr. Maston and Christian Ethics

Dr. Maston's principal contribution was in the field of ethics, Christian ethics. As mentioned earlier, he taught first in the field of Christian education. Dr. J. M. Price, the professor who led in the establishment of Southwestern Seminary's School of Religious Education, taught a course in Christian