While reading the book, “The Jesus Touch” (authored by Lynn Anderson; published on 2002 by Howard Publ. Co.), I stumbled upon this segment, which absolutely caught my attention. It took some time before I could get back to this particular excerpt and encode it in my laptop. But I knew right from the moment I read it, a strong urge to share this immediately sparked.
Later, I could somehow elaborate why I got so eager to share this. But at this point, I’d like to ask you to take your time to read it on your own.
For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Thomas Shipp was pastor of a great and caring congregation that began in his living room and grew to more than eight thousand members. Although in constant demand as a speaker, Dr. Shipp often went to small churches on preaching missions.
One Sunday evening he drove from Dallas to a small town to preach at 8:30. Some people standing around in front of the church said, “Preacher, see that house over there? (next to the parsonage, which was next-door to the church). A woman lives there with her seventeen-year-old daughter. A man drives up at ten o’clock every night. He leaves the next morning at two-thirty.” They told Shipp that the girl was going to Kansas City and that everyone knew why she was going – she was “in trouble.” Furthermore, they implied that the man who came each night was responsible. Shipp watched. Sure enough, at exactly ten o’clock, a man drove up and went inside. But he was gone in the morning.
Next day, almost everywhere Dr. Shipp went, people talked about this girl. Shipp asked the local pastor: “Have you ever been over to see the family that lives next-door?”
The pastor protested, “Man, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that house!”
So Shipp decided he would go himself. He introduced himself at the door, “You don’t know me; I’m Tom Shipp from Dallas, Texas. I’m over here preaching in the church. I understand that your daughter left town this morning. I just wanted to come by and let you know that I was thinking of you – this must be a difficult day for you. I don’t even know your name, but I’m saying a prayer for you today.”
The woman broke down in tears. When able to regain her composure, she explained, “I don’t know what I am going to do without my daughter.” Once inside the house, Tom discovered a third person, the eighty-five-year-old grandmother. The girl’s father had died some years back. So the mother and daughter had come to this house to live with Grandma because Grandfather was also dead. Then Grandmother suffered an illness that demanded round-the-clock care lest she strangle to death. So the mother was completely confined to the house. No one in the community saw her. The daughter did all the shopping.
That evening, Tom arranged for a sitter for the grandmother so the mother could attend the revival. Tom introduced the woman to the congregation. “I want you to meet your neighbor and my new friend. This is a great night in her life. She lives next-door to the parsonage. Her daughter had to leave home this morning because they no longer had food to eat, and no one in this town would give the girl a job. Therefore, the daughter had to go to another town to work and send back money for her mother’s and grandmother’s living. Grandmother, who lives in the same house, is eighty-five years old and requires constant care. Your neighbor says she doesn’t know what she would do, if it weren’t for her brother who drives 120 miles every night and stays with Grandma between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 2:30 A.M. while my friend gets four and a half hours of sleep. The reason this night is special to her is because it’s the first time she has been back in this church since she was six years old, when her father was the founding pastor of this church.”
It would not require a genius to understand why this had to be shared. You may agree by now how the human heart could be so insensitive or apathetic towards others. It’s proven that we are naturally self-centered. And what’s worse? Other than being selfish quite a number still have the energy to gossip (and you know how gossips could spread like wildfire!).
These things just break my heart. It’s heartbreaking because it happens everywhere. It can happen even inside the church – where wounded souls were supposed to find rest and experience the love of Christ in the company of those who profess their love for Him. It deeply hurts because I could be so insensitive and judgmental towards other too. Even the best of us may struggle with this same issue!
I’m not over-generalizing, but I guess it’s safe to conclude that nobody’s exempted in this kind of tendency.
Therefore, my fervent prayer is that we would re-align ourselves to God’s purpose for our lives – to love Him and to love people. I pray that we would start going past what’s superficial towards every person we have the opportunity to interact with. Let’s be intentional.
I pray that we would learn to set aside our differences, and begin caring more. May we learn to break those invisible barriers! And, I pray that we would judge less and less; and love more and more – just like Jesus.