Over the past few days, I’ve written about an amazing ministry that I was able to participate in, in South Carolina. I’ve written about the many volunteers, who graciously gave their time and resources to be the hands and feet of Christ for the week.
Today I’m going to share a little bit about the people we served, the Smiths. The house that I helped work on belonged to an elderly couple. They were both in their eighties. They had been hard workers all of their lives. They even had an in ground pool in the back yard that had trees growing in it. They had a huge garden at one time, that now sat dormant.
I imagine at one time, their home was the talk of their neighborhood. They were members of a fairly large church and only stopped attending when their cars stopped running. Mr. Smith had been a contractor at one time. Mrs. Smith had worked at a fabric store.
They were proud people who simply had the misfortune of getting old and sick. They could easily be my neighbors or yours. They could easily be me someday or maybe you.
When I began picking shingles up off of the ground, Mr. Smith approached me and told me he had a lawn tractor with a cart and he could pull it up for me to load them onto. He said it would take me forever to get it done on my own. He didn’t want a hand out. He wanted to help. He and I spent all afternoon chatting as I loaded shingles and he would drive them to the dumpster for me and wait for me to unload them.
Mrs. Smith stayed inside the house and always invited the girls inside to have coffee with her. She couldn’t stop bragging about how hard they worked.
Their roof had been leaking for quite some time. The ceiling had caved in, in the front and back rooms and the floor had completely rotted out in the back room. Seriously, it was being held up by the carpet.
When everything was replaced and the back room was repainted and carpeted, Mrs. Smith was like a child on Christmas morning. That was the room she spent most of her time in. Having survived two broken hips, she didn’t get out much.
On our last visit to their home, the couple thanked everyone with huge smiles. Mrs. Smith invited us all back to visit. Mr. Smith said something I will never forget. He had emphysema and was very hard to hear, so if you didn’t lean in, you would have missed it.
“I just can’t believe someone like you would ever help someone like me,” he said.
I was stunned. What did he mean, “Someone like him?” What made him feel so different from us? Was it because he was poor? Was it because he was old? Was it because he no longer had his business or health?
As followers of Christ, I don’t know that we always do a good job at loving our neighbors. I often get requests from people to donate to their overseas mission trips to Africa, South America and other far away places. But, what about our neighbors down the street? Can we in good conscience drive by the house with a tarp on the roof because their roof leaks, on the way to the airport to fly to our mission trip?
The story of the Good Samaritan says that our neighbors are anyone who crosses our paths. Are we reaching out to our neighbors? How many people would help others if a program like Salkehatchie existed in their town? What if they were able to serve by paying a couple of hundred bucks and giving their time instead of thousands for a plane flight?
These are issues that have plagued my mind since my return. I think we can do better. I’m going to try to organize some kind of outreach in my own community. Perhaps you are inspired to try something in yours too. Who knows what kind of difference we can make?
Have an awesome day!