"Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded..."
One childhood memory that has impacted me the most is the way my dad reached out and met the needs of people who were down on their luck. He is an auto mechanic in a small town located on Interstate 70 in western Kansas. It's one of those "blink and you miss it" towns, complete with the stereotypical Dairy Queen restaurant. I can't begin to count the number of times we fed and housed travelers while their car was being repaired.
There was an African American woman with a British accent, who I distinctly remember told her several children to "get in the bloody corner" of our dining room as some kind of discipline. There was a middle aged man from California who ate lunch with us one day and told us all about his glittery life as a movie star, which we soon realized couldn't be so glittery if he had to try so hard to convince us that it was. Evidently he had been on a set with Demi Moore one time. Needless to say, my teenage brother was pretty interested. Another time it was a hippie couple that needed a place to stay. I believe Dad thoroughly investigated their marital status, consulted Mom regarding the availability of proper sleeping accomodations on opposite ends of the house and extracted from them the promise of "no hanky panky". I'm guessing they made good on that promise. The male in this couple may or may not have been the guy we dubbed "battery guy" and still talk about to this day. He had some kind of metal extenders in his ears that made the holes large enough to house AA batteries. Not a common accessory seen in small town USA.
Not only did we provide meals and overnight accomodations to people off the highway, but my dad also literally took in and helped out drifters that passed through. Who knows exactly what these guys needed or were looking for, but dad and a couple of his friends didn't hesitate to find work for transients who crossed their path. A very large fellow by the name of Evan was around for awhile. Did he have some Native American heritage? Maybe it was simply that his hair was dark and long. I was pretty young and don't remember him very clearly. Years later, just before he passed away, he reached out again to one of my dad's friends. In the end, Dad helped transport him to his final resting place. One cold winter night when I was about middle school age, God gave an old clunker of a car just enough "umph" to pull into the Conoco station in Quinter. Deaver was a brother in the Lord, a pastor with truely amazing stories of God's provision and power in his life. He told us about his childhood in inner city San Francisco and how he grew up in and around his mother's(?) soup kitchen. We sang some gospel songs after supper one night and I remember he complimented me. At 10 or 11, that made quite an impact. :) He lived in Oklahoma and once he earned enough money to have his car fixed and get back home, he was off. But he came back from time to time and I think people from Quinter traveled down to see him too.
Lastly, I remember dad giving rides to random hitchhikers and money or food whenever people asked. Once while we were on a family vacation, we picked up a hitchhiker couple (maybe they had a child with them?). They carried several large black trash bags, which I can only assume held all their possessions. On another vacation, I remember a man approaching dad while he was pumping gas, telling him that he "needed money for milk to feed his babies". Now we all know that could have been and probably was a made up story, but Dad helped him out anyway.
There are many more stories that I don't remember clearly enough to tell and probably many, many more that I don't remember at all. One of the most amazing things that stands out to me as I recount these memories, is how my dad reached out to these folks, sometimes at the risk of putting his family in danger. How many of us would use the worst-case scenario as a reason to pass right on by? How many people do you know that would invite a complete stranger (a vagabond, at that) to spend the night in their home? Who in the world would offer hitchhikers a ride in the same vehicle as their four small children?
A man of deep, deep love, wisdom, discernment and faith. That's who. Someone who understands who he was without the Lord and credits all he is to his Father. Someone who knows the very person of Jesus and wants others to know Him too. And someone who desires to live his life guided by the Holy Spirit.
That is my father.