by Debra Whittington
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25: 35-40
Why would someone give up their holiday weekend to cook for 125 people stranded in a snowstorm? Why would someone sit up all night at church to welcome additional travelers, answer questions, and just be available? Why would people provide food, blankets, and other items for people they didn’t even know?
Over the New Year’s weekend, hundreds of people in our community decided to make a difference to those who were stranded by the snowstorm. Many of the people I later spoke to didn’t give a second thought to pitching in and helping out. Pastor David England from First Baptist told me, “We tried to show the love of Christ in a practical and meaningful way. We wanted people to feel it wasn’t just a shelter, but to give them a good experience.”
News reports from the SUN and television relayed stories of how people went the extra mile to help out those in need. One of the most dramatic stories concerned a family near Clayton who opened their home to over 40 strangers with no place to go. The people came together as total strangers and left as friends.
While there were many reports of good Samaritans in the media, there were hundreds of stories left untold. Here are just a few. There was the gentleman who went up and down the streets telling motorists on the side of the road and in parking lots where they could stay and then escorted them to a shelter. He could have let them find shelter on their own or let them remain in their vehicles for the night. Instead, he made an extra effort to go out and find those who were in need.
At one of the shelters was a woman who couldn’t speak any English so she had a hard time communicating with others. Instead of giving up, she found a broom and dustpan and was busy the entire weekend sweeping and wiping up spills. All the time she had a smile on her face. When an interpreter was found to communicate with her she proudly told them that she had Jesus in her heart and was glad to help any way she could.
While it would be easy to sit back and be waited on, one older woman felt compelled to help out with the cooking. She stood at a hot grill cooking 150 hamburgers while others helped with the rest of the preparations.
Next, there were those who sat quietly listening to the travelers share their problems. They didn’t try to solve the problems or even offer advice; they simply provided a listening ear and a compassionate heart.
Finally and certainly not least were those who stayed home and prayed. They prayed for the volunteers and emergency personnel who were out on the hazardous roads assisting others.
It’s been approximately 20 years since I saw this many people stranded in town during a snowstorm. During that snowstorm, the people of Tucumcari stepped up and got involved in helping those who were in need. It seems that it is always that way. Whenever there is a crisis, people are willing to help out any way they can.
While it is great to help out during a crisis, there are plenty of opportunities to lend a hand on a daily basis. In our churches there are plenty areas of ministry available. All a person has to do is ask how they can be of help. There are also several organizations in desperate need of volunteers.
In whatever we do, we need to remember that we are doing it for the Lord. As it says in James l: 22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”. It is time to practice what we preach.