I got an email yesterday from a church member that made my heart swell and she gave me permission to share it on my blog. I had preached this past weekend about Jeremiah’s call in Jeremiah 29 for his people to “seek the welfare of the city to which they had been sent.” What I said was that in addition to contributing to the various campaigns and efforts to stop poverty, we need to make the world personal for the strangers that we encounter, because loneliness is a huge problem in our day. This story is a simple, beautiful example of how God gives us second chances to love strangers when we blow them off at first.
So I was running errands and had about 12 minutes to spare before picking up a pizza to bring home for game night with the kids and my parents. 12 minutes is a lot of time for me without kids to get stuff done and so I was focused. I got out of my car at Walmart with my eyes on my phone… a girl approached me and I quickly said no thank you with a smile and kept walking.
I took 2 steps and realized what I had done and looked back so I could find out what this girl even wanted, but I didn’t see her. My heart felt heavy but I moved on and was focused on the 4 things I needed to get before running to get the pizza and get home for family game night. I took about 2 steps more and a boy approached me. He didn’t speak English and held a card out to me. On it was written that he needed food for his family. His mom had lost her job and they needed food.
I realized the girl was probably asking the same thing and my heart was heavy. Anyway, I said to the boy I will buy you some food and asked what they needed. He didn’t speak English and started shouting his sisters name and she came from across the parking lot. It was the girl I had so rudely brushed aside, I said I’m so sorry for how I treated you and she kindly smiled at me.
I took her into Walmart and bought a carts worth of food for the family of 6. It was such a gift from God that he allowed me a second chance to look up and love a stranger. During the short time that she and I shopped I learned that her mom cleaned for a company that due to the government shutdown closed down and so she lost her cleaning job. She is a freshman at Robinson and a very sweet child.
I was raised by two people that lived by the rule, “what would Jesus do.” They taught me this and I’m so glad God gave me a second chance, after I so miserably failed the first time. Anyway, given your talk tonight I felt called to share this story and ask for prayers for this family and all the others like hers that are suffering.
Thank you, God, for all the second chances you give us to love the strangers we’re inclined to ignore.