Who Is My Neighbor That I Am To Love
The day arrived for Rick’s journey to begin. Rick’s employer handed over to Rick official business documents for the Houston plant personnel, an authorized airline ticket for Rick’s transportation home, and a company credit card with some company cash for expenses, and the van’s set of keys.
Rick began his trek. Three peaceful days had passed. On the fourth day it came to pass as Rick was journeying across the open space of the Texas landscape, suddenly, without warning, there was a loss of engine power.
Moving at a speed of fifty-five miles per hour, Rick having taken a defensive driving class, began recalling what he learned for this type of scenario. He safely brought the vehicle to a stop without injury to himself or damage to the van.
Rick pondered the obvious to himself, "Where am I? What am I going to do now?"
Cars whizzed by not stopping. A complete depletion of energy or strength began to seep into Rick’s imagination.
He remembered the first rule for this type of circumstance, "Don't Panic.” … “by casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you. Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him belongs the power forever.” Amen 1Peter 5:7-11
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
It came to pass that a certain man drove by who also was on a journey. When he saw Rick sitting on the ground by the company van, the stranger felt compassion. The passer by pulled over his old VW bus and stopped. Getting out of the bus the stranger approach Rick.
"What is the matter?" The man inquired.
Like a medicine balm from Gilead, the presence and sound of the stranger’s voice began to soothe Rick. After a short exchange of conversation Rick accepted the help offered by the stranger.
Leaving the company van on the side of the road, the two men continued to share congenial conversation as the stranger drove them both to the next small desert town where an auto repair shop was located.
The stranger used his Automobile Club card to cover payment for Rick’s tow.
The shop's tow truck was dispatched. The van was towed safely to the repair shop. The two men departed company. Rick phoned his employer who in turn phoned the repair shop manager in order to authorized repair work for the van. After securing the vehicle, Rick found refuge at a local motel for the rest of the night.
The following day, carrying personal baggage, traveler checks, official business documents, an airline ticket, and a company credit card with some company cash, Rick checked out of his room and walked to the local bus stop. When Rick arrived at the bus stop he found that the bus came through only once daily and that it had already come through earlier that morning.
Becoming desperate and a bit touched by the desert heat, Rick decided to hitch hike to El Paso, sixty miles away. After standing out on the highway for not a short time, Rick turned to prayer, asking for God's providential protection and that God may move upon someone to provide him with a ride.
Moments later an old pickup truck pulled up. The driver offered Rick a ride. Jumping up into the empty truck bed he settled in for the bumpy ride back to EI Paso. An hour went by when the driver once again pulled over and stopped. The two separated on friendly terms.
Standing on the outskirts of this unfamiliar town, Rick reflected on how God had provided for him thus far. He thanked the Lord above. Finishing his prayer with a hearty “Amen,” thoughts began to drift into his mind reminding him of the Bible story of the Good Samaritan that he first learned at St Brigit’s parochial elementary school.
He began to recall how the man had fallen among robbers, and how they had stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. Rick decided he did not want to become a victim of a robber himself therefore taking a moment to reflect; a solution began to materialize within his imagination. Thinking to himself, "'I know what I will do. I will contact a local Catholic Church in the area. The priest will help me!"
Finding, a local gas station public phone booth with a phone book directory, Rick located the phone number of the local Catholic Church.
Dialing the number the phone began to ring and by chance a certain priest answered the phone. When the priest heard Rick’s story, he declined to help explaining that he used this time for his daily hour of devotional prayer. He apologized. Before hanging up, the priest stated that he would remember Rick in his prayers.
The priest ended the conversation with, "Go in peace. Good luck and God bless."
Once again Rick began thinking to himself, "'I know what I’ll do. I will contact a local Protestant Church in the area. The minister will help me!"
Using the phone directory once again, Rick located the local Protestant Church phone number. After dialing the number the phone began to ring and by chance a certain minister answered the phone.
Rick began the conversation as he had with the priest. The Protestant minister after hearing Rick pour out his heart and request for help, declined to help explaining that he used this time for his daily hour of devotional Bible reading.
He apologized. Before hanging up though the minister offered another alternative. There was a non-denominational street Mission which helped the poor, the downtrodden, ex- cons and prostitutes, that lived on the street located on the outskirts of town right by where Rick was calling from.
The Protestant minister suggested that Rick call an information operator and get the street ministry phone number and call them. The minister ended the conversation in a hearty voice, "Good luck and may God bless you." No remembrances of Rick in his prayers were offered.
Following the minister's advice, Rick got the phone number of the local Mission. After dialing the number the phone began to ring. A man answered the phone. He identified himself as a lay minister.
For the third time, Rick began to share from his heart his plight. Before finishing the story, Rick began to cry.
"Where are you?" The voice asked.
He told the street missionary the address.
"That is just around the corner from our Mission," the worker stated. “I will be there shortly."
The two exchange supportive words. Rick waited for the Christian layman to arrive.
In a short time the lay minister arrived and began heading in the direction of the phone booth where Rick stated he would be waiting.
As the lay minister came upon of this stranded pedestrian, seeing the lost and bewildered man, he again felt compassion.
It was the stranger that had used his Automobile Club card to cover payment for Rick’s tow.
Once again he helped Rick, putting his belongings into his own vehicle. They arrived at the Mission. With Rick’s property secure, the layman continued taking care of Rick. He first provided medical treatment to care for Rick’s hand scratches and leg scrapes which had occurred while traveling in the back of the bed of the pickup truck. He poured a tropical anti-infective solution and applied a first aide cream on Rick’s wounds. He then bandaged the more serious ones. Aspirin and cold water to drink were also provided.
Refreshments were also provided.
Once recovered from the heat of the Texas sun and fed, Rick using the Mission phone contacted his boss. Plans were arranged for him to fly home using the airline ticket he was given before he left.
The lay minister drove him to the airport.
Arriving at the airline terminal the street missionary declined the generous tip that was offered him saying, "My actions are a prayer to God.” “My daily devotion of the Bible has shown me that God's Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105
The two departed in peace.
Another man walks the streets at night not knowing where his next meal will be coming from. A piece of tattered paper is observed. Closer observation the man perceives a message from God above that God sent forth His Son in the fullness of time.
He believes it and receives the message to be true and is instantly changed from death to life!