He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14 ESV)
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to spend some time in Ft. Worth, TX to participate in Mercy Chefs’ “17 Days of Christmas.” Heather and I have talked about serving the homeless on Christmas Day for years, and we were blessed with the opportunity to serve around 100 homeless and underprivileged men, women, and children. This project will continue through December 31.
(In case you are not familiar with Mercy Chefs, let me explain. We are primarily a disaster response and relief ministry. We serve hot chef prepared meals to first responders, victims, and volunteers. Fortunately, we don’t have continual disasters, so when we have downtime, we partner with other ministries to feed the homeless.)
I’m always amazed when we are obedient to Christ. We serve with the intention to bless others, but we always seem to be the ones blessed by the homeless. Yesterday, I sat down with a 60 year old man who has been out of prison for 18 months. He spent a couple of years in prison after he beat up some creeper who was abusing his fifteen year old daughter. What surprised me was that this man, Terry Gibson, was a brother in Christ and could quote scripture better than I could.
Terry said that he was a manager at a classic car dealership for ten years before he went to prison. He was a single father who had custody of his three children. I spent about an hour listening to him as he told me that his predicament came solely because he didn’t trust God to handle the precarious situation with the sexual predator that was after his daughter.
As I imagine myself in his shoes, I know that if I was faced with a similar situation with one of my three daughters, I might be tempted to handle the matter similarly. I pray that I am never thrust into a comparable position.
His troubles are far from over as he is still picking up his broken life. His children, feeling abandoned by his imprisonment, have pretty much abandoned their relationship with their father. He attributes it to his unwillingness to allow God to handle his dilemma. Yet, he is still upbeat. He is thankful for his experience in prison as it has drawn him closer to God. He served as a father figure for many young men behind bars, and now he offers his wisdom to kids and young adults on the streets.
When we parted ways, he left with a full belly and a warm blanket and I left with a fresh perspective. God can and does use the least of us to serve Christ, and I’m blessed to have a new friend. We may never meet again, but I don’t have to worry about him. He is safe with the Lord, but I do pray for him and his family and I pray that God saves others through him. It was a Merry Christmas, indeed.