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  • Writer's pictureZeulner

How a Steinway piano funded philanthropy

I get a lot of emails from fund developers of non-profits trying to raise money for their cause. This email caused me to stop and smile. There was no call for money, only a story. This was a celebration of how God had used this man's love for music and a piano to fund a cause close to his heart. Now I'm passing it on to you; listen to Dale's first-hand account below:

About 50 years ago ...

I started to take piano lessons at age eight. My musical abilities do not stem from hours of disciplined practice, yet God graciously gave me some playing skills.

The dog and piano belonged to my piano teacher, Mrs. Wright.

About 40 years ago ...

While in college, I had many opportunities to play and perform. I delved into electronic keyboards but often missed playing on a real piano.

For a season, my buddy Joel and I traveled around Oklahoma and sang at small churches.

When I entered full-time ministry in 1988, my travel schedule and modest dwellings didn't allow for a proper piano.

You can't buy a decent piano with that amount

When we moved to Arkansas two years ago, I began to wonder: "What would it be like to have a piano again?"

Allie and I began to save. After several months, my dad gave our budget a boost, and I began to search for a good deal. I called a piano consignment shop in Tulsa and told the salesman our budget.

"You can't buy a decent piano with that amount," he said.

Now what? We really didn't want to increase the amount, and I didn't want a junky piano, so I decided to call some friends who live in Oklahoma.

I called Eileen in Oklahoma

I've known Eileen and Steve for two decades and have been a guest in their home numerous times. During the visits, I'd often play old show tunes on their baby grand piano.

Steve purchased it new in 1991, but nowadays, I was aware that it wasn't played much, so I called Eileen and made a proposition.

Dale: ... I want to offer you the amount we have in our budget for your piano, knowing that your piano is worth much, much more. I hope you are not insulted by this offer.

Eileen: ... Oh Dale, you can have the piano. Please come and get it. Just take the money you have in your budget and give it to missions.

Dale: (choking with emotion) Eileen! You are much too gracious. Please talk to Steve about this to make sure you're on the same page, and we'll talk again tomorrow.

(24 hours later)

Eileen: ... Dale, my children don't want the piano, and our grandkids don't want it either. My main concern is that the piano is played. Please come and get it.

Dale: Oh, my gracious. I have no words. Thank you so much!

Present day with the Steinway

Now Allie and I have a baby grand Steinway in our home. I get choked up again as I tell you this. We followed Eileen's request and gave the money to two missionaries; one in Romania and one in Slovenia.

Only in God's economy would we receive such a gift and then, instead of an expense, be allowed to give the money to missions. The transaction still makes my head spin.

I learned how to tune the piano

We found a Steinway technician who lives near us. He voiced the piano, which required him to soften the felt on each hammer so the tone of each note is uniform. Additionally, he taught me how to tune the strings.

Music at Christmastime

This December, we invited several different groups over to sing Christmas Carols. These guests had an assortment of worldviews, with some being quite different than ours. Hosting them was a complete privilege. Quite a hush came upon the room when I read from Luke chapter 2.

In closing, please know that you are involved in these moments. We truly appreciate the gracious financial gifts you send to us.

The economics of our new piano does not make sense. Nor do the God-inspired economics of forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. The former is an amazing gift, and the latter is an unspeakably beautiful offer.

This season, may you experience great joy as you consider the Advent of our Savior and the gift of salvation offered through Jesus.

I hope you enjoyed our story,

Dale and Allie


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