Ron is originally from the Adirondacks. He was born on a dairy farm, taken from his family and sent to a foster home, made it through high school, worked for a union, built high rises in San Diego and LA, hurt his back, gets workman’s comp, met a woman in Tijuana, she became pregnant, he smuggled her across the border when she was three months pregnant, married her, had another child, four years later she finally got her green card, he cheated on her, she left him in South Carolina. He’s been all over Mexico, every state, the Philippines, and several other countries. His brother committed suicide, both of his parents are dead, he misses his mother, loves his son, loves his dogs. He moved with his cousin Mike to El Paso to be with a woman he loved, she took all his money, all his things, and kicked him out.
Mike – “Cowboy”
Mike is Ron’s cousin. Mike is quiet, he loves country music, he IS country music. Real country music. He worked in Branson, MO where he met Stevie Ray, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams Jr.
I encountered Ron and Mike on their journey from El Paso back to SC. Their Jeep Cherokee Laredo broke down in my town. They parked at a shopping center and begged for money. A couple of police officers confronted them and directed them to a church 4 miles down the road. My church. The church informed them that they only help locals and don’t usually help those passing through. But they did pay for an estimate for Ron at the local Jeep dealer.
I met Ron when I didn’t have time for Ron. My wife and I were headed downtown to take Fabian a pair of shoes and socks (see below for that story) then to dinner. She wanted to stop by a store for the last day of a sale, but we were quickly losing daylight. I decided to stop anyway. We parked the car and there was Ron. The trunk was open, Mike was in the passenger’s seat, and Ron was walking toward me. I knew what Ron needed, but didn’t know if I was going to believe his story. He told me they broke down, didn’t have the money to fix the car, and showed me a quote from the local dealer with the bill to my church. I pulled out my wallet, pulled out all my cash, and gave it to him.
When we were done shopping, we came back out to Ron still standing outside of his car. He was extremely thankful and gave me a hug. He said he knew God said, “ask and you shall receive,” but nobody was helping him. He said only once before had someone been as generous as I had been. No one had ever opened their wallet to him and said, “here is all I’ve got.” I didn’t know how much I gave him, but he told me. And it wasn’t even the amount that he was most thankful for, but that I gave it all. He told me they were going to the truck stop to try to wash their clothes and take a shower, then they would head to the church to spend the night in their car.
We got back in the car, saw how others responded to him, and watched the manager kick them out of the parking lot.
We started to head downtown to Fabian, when I realized that I cannot live with myself continually passing up these opportunities. Too many times do I overlook a need, only to regret not making the impact I could have made.
I turned the car around and decided to try to meet their need. I called my friend (who is conveniently a mechanic) and told him I’d pay for the parts if he could help me install them. He was more than willing. My only problem was I lost my new friends… again (see Fabian). They weren’t too hard to track down. They relocated across the street with the trunk popped, asking for more money. My friend met me out there and we found that the repair wasn’t as simple as I thought it might be. We tried all we could to source the parts. We decided we really wouldn’t be able to fix it ourselves. I told Ron that I’d like for him and Mike to come by the church service in the morning. He was slightly hesitant, but agreed. I gave him my number and that was it for the night.
I struggled with having a house and being approached by someone sleeping in their car. Why don’t I open my doors, my shower, my bed to them? Why not?
I called Ron about 10:40 to see if he was there to go to the 11:00 service with me. He didn’t answer. About five minutes into the service, he called. He said he talked to someone in the church office that said they would pay for their repairs. The church also took them to their care center and gave them some water and canned food. He told me someone was meeting him to get the food, but he wanted to get to the service because he knows those Southern preachers can really get fired up. He said he knows God can speak directly through a preacher to someone. He said he was in tears when the church said they would help.
I caught them leaving the service and invited them as my guests to lunch with my friends. They followed us to lunch and I was able to sit and have a conversation with these two men. Ron told me everything… more than I was expecting to be told. Ron told me that he had a good heart, hadn’t always done what God says, but had a good heart. He praised me for my good heart, even said he wishes his son had my heart. I told him my heart isn’t good, that helping him wasn’t what my heart would normally choose, but that it was Christ in me. Ron appreciated having someone to talk to and Mike enjoyed the food. I left Ron and Mike feeling like I had done nothing, but just hoping that I had been a light in some way.
Why can’t I give everything for someone else? I do see Christ working in me. I could have left Ron and Mike with my cash, but I just hope that I left them with a seed. A seed that is the example of Christ. But how unworthy I am to be that example. How little I did when I could have done more.
Christ is moulding me into something so much greater than I can imagine. Is softening my heart to those who are kicked to the curb and shunned. Christ went to the woman at the well. Christ went to Zacchaeus. These are his people. These are my people.
LORD, help Your people to see the needs of others and sacrifice themselves to meet those needs.
Why should someone like Ron believe “ask and you shall receive” (whether he took it out of context or not). As the children of God, when someone asks, they should receive. If we are to be the hands and feet of Christ, we need to start meeting needs and being Christ to others. He met our needs and then some. We should open our eyes to others’ needs and meet those needs with an abounding, self-sacrificial love.