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March 1st, 2012

Story : Working To Buy Food And Bibles

Working To Buy Food And Bibles

It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had brought everything alive with color, but a northern cold front had brought winter’s chill back to southern Indiana.

I sat with two friends in a quaint restaurant just off the town square. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. I could read the well-worn sign attached to his pack: I WILL WORK FOR FOOD.

My heart sank. I noticed other people at the tables around us looking at him, too, shaking their heads in sadness and disbelief. We finished our meal, but I couldn’t get the image of the man out of my mind.

I had a list of errands to do before going back to work. As I passed the town square, I looked halfheartedly for the stranger. If I see him again, I’ll have to do something, I thought with a knot in my stomach.

I drove through town and saw no sign of him. As I finished my errands and got back in the car, I felt the Spirit of God speaking to me: “Don’t go back to the office until you’ve driven once more around the square.”

After a moment’s hesitation, I headed back. At a corner of the town square, I spotted him standing on the steps of the stone-front church, going through his pack. Do I really have to get involved? What should I say to him? Maybe it’s best to just drive on. The vacant parking space on the street seemed to be a sign from God. I pulled in, got out, and approached the town’s newest visitor.

“Looking for the pastor?” I asked.

“Not really,” he replied. “Just resting.”

“Have you eaten today?”

“Oh, I ate something early this morning.”

“Would you like some lunch?” I offered.

“Do you have some work I can do for you?”

“No,” I replied. “I commute here from the city but I would like to take you to dinner.”

“Sure,” he finally agreed with a smile.

As he gathered his things, I asked some innocent questions.

“Where you headed?”

“St. Louis.”

“From…?”

“Oh, all over; mostly Florida.”

“How long you been walking?”

“Fourteen years,” came the unexpected reply.

We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left only minutes earlier, and Daniel and I got acquainted. His dark hair was long and straight, and he had a neatly trimmed beard. His face, weathered by the outdoors, seemed slightly older than thirty-eight years. His eyes were dark yet clear. I was startled at how articulate he was. As he removed his denim jacket, I read the words on his bright red T-shirt: JESUS IS THE NEVER ENDING STORY.

Daniel’s Story

Then Daniel’s story began to unfold. He had seen some rough times early in life. He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier while backpacking across the country, he had stopped in Daytona Beach. He hired on with some men who were putting up a large tent and sound equip-ment. A concert, Daniel thought. Instead, it was a series of revival services, and he gave his life over to Christ.

“Nothing’s been the same since,” he said. “I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did.”

“Ever think of stopping?” I asked.

“Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That’s what’s in my pack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when his Spirit leads.”

It suddenly hit me. This homeless friend is not homeless. He’s on a mission and lives this way by choice. My next question burned inside me before I finally asked: “What’s it like?”

“What?”

“To walk into a town with everything you own on your back. And having to carry that sign?”

“Oh, it was humiliating at first,” Daniel admitted. “People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread at me and made an obscene gesture. That didn’t make me feel welcome. But then I realized God was using me to touch lives and change people’s concepts of other folks like me.”

My concept was changing, too.

Following The Star

We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door Daniel paused. He turned to me and said, “Come ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.” I felt as if we were on holy ground.

“Could you use another Bible?” I asked. He mentioned a certain translation that traveled well and was also his personal favorite.

“I’ve read through it fourteen times,” he said.

I was able to find Daniel a Bible and he seemed grateful. “Where you headed from here?” I asked.

“Well, I found a little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.”

“Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?”

“No, I just figure I should go there.”

He pointed to the map. “I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that’s where I’m going next.” Daniel smiled warmly.

I drove him back to the town square where we’d met two hours earlier. It began to rain as we unloaded his things.

“Would you like to sign my autograph book?” he asked. “I like to keep messages from folks I meet.”

I wrote how his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with the words of Jeremiah 29:11. “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.”

“Thanks,” Daniel said. “I know we just met and we’re really just strangers, but I love you.”

“I know,” I said. “I love you, too.”

“The Lord is good.”

“Yes, he is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?” I asked.

“A long time,” he replied.

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced. Deep inside, I had been changed.

See you in the new Jerusalem

Daniel adjusted his belongings on his back, smiled his winning smile, and said, “See you in the new Jerusalem.”

“I’ll be there,” was my reply.

He began his journey again, his sign dangling from his bed roll and pack of Bibles. Then he suddenly turned and asked, “If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?”

“You bet,” I shouted back.

“God bless.”

“God bless.”

It was the last time I ever saw him.

Later that evening as I left the office, the wind blew stronger. I bundled up and hurried to the car. As I reached for the emergency brake, I saw them—a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the handle. I picked them up and wondered if Daniel’s hands would stay warm tonight without them. I remembered his request: “If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?”

I keep Daniel’s cotton gloves in my office to help me see the world and its people in a new way. His two hours of ministry affected me from that day on. Sometimes I can hear his voice distinctly, “See you in the new Jerusalem.”

Yes, Daniel, I know I will.

NB: “I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.”

– – – written by Richard Ryan

February 13th, 2012

What is Love?

What is Love

What is Love? Can you define it? Well, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 defines Love here…

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • It does not envy
  • It does not boast
  • It is not proud
  • It is not rude
  • It is not self-seeking
  • It is not easily angered
  • It keeps no record of wrongs
  • It does not delight in evil
  • It rejoices with the truth
  • It always protects
  • It always trusts
  • It always hopes
  • It always perseveres
  • Love NEVER FAILS

This is the correct meaning and attributes of Love as given in the Bible.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

January 30th, 2012

Why We Cannot Listen To The Word Of God

Why We Cannot Listen To The Word Of God

We cannot listen to God since our minds are too noisy.

This verse in the Bible baffles our minds and arrests the attention of our hearts. Why did the Hebrews in Egypt not listen to Moses their leader? What had prevented them to do so? What would be its significance for us today? Can our sufferings, sicknesses and pains prevent us from paying due attention to the Word of God. It is possible that a life of misery can switch off one’s ears to the inner voice of God?

Bible unfolds to us a two-fold factor for the inability of the Israelites to pay attention to the words of Moses. One factor seems to be spiritual (internal) and the other, physical (external) one.

“They did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel bondage” (Ex 6:9). It is quite obvious that a soul cannot listen to the word of God due to its “broken spirit” and “cruel bondage.” In other words, a “broken spirit” and “cruel bondage” incapacitate a man/woman to heed to God’s word.

Broken Spirit

How does a man/woman’s spirit become broken? Who crushes/breaks one’s spirit? And how can we mend a broken spirit? It happens to the inner being of a person and so it is invisible. But we can observe the signs and symptoms of a “drooping spirit” in the way he/she performs his/her daily duties in life.

Once Jesus had met a group of people who were “crushed in their spirit,” “distressed” (ripto), broken hearted and “wearied” (Mt 9:36), and “he began to teach them at length” (Mk 6:34). Lengthy teaching might perhaps heal many of the broken spirited people of our time. It is the Lord alone “who heals the broken hearted and he binds up their wounds” (Ps 147:3). To do this, Jesus is empowered through the mighty anointing from above. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted” (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18). Elsewhere, Dr. Luke mentions that, “the power of the Lord was with him to heal” (Lk 5:17). And he lifts up those who are bowed down” (Ps 146:8).

“A dejected mind, a gloomy face and a wounded heart” would be the true manifestation of a “broken spirit” (Sir 25:23). It is quite natural for a soul to wander about in the world, once its goal in life is lost. And so, he/she desires to end up his/her life “in death” (Ps 109:16). It was the longing of Job (17:1), to choose death rather than life. “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear” (Pro 18:14). “A downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Pro 17:22).

Cruel bondage

We know from our experiences, that by the “sorrow of heart” or “a cruel bondage,” a human “spirit is broken” easily and quickly (Pro 15:13) and is unable to heed to the voice of the Lord. Even now, some sections of our human society, due to their abject poverty and age-old oppression, cannot rise above their bondages in order to plan for an egalitarian society. Even the every suggestion of it sounds to them like an utopian idea or a wishful dream for the far future.

Do you remember how the Lord had liberated a daughter of Abraham from the cruel bondage of Satan for eighteen long, years? “Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Lk 13:16). In fact, He came to “liberate” people from their bondages (Lk 4:18; Jn 8:32).

Before preaching the Good News, should we not liberate our people from various types of bondages? Or should we not liberate them in and through the Gospel message that we preach? This spiritual activity can only be performed by the Spirit of the Lord (Lk 4:18). Let us pray that God will make us humble instruments in His hands for liberating many souls from the bondages of sin and Satan.

– – – written by Fr. J. Eapan SDB

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