The Man at the Door #2

Saturday I wrote about a man who showed up at a church gathering on Friday night. The church members truly exemplified Christ’s love and compassion. If you didn’t get a chance to read that story, scroll down to “The Man at the Door”. As promised, I will recant a story that (unfortunately) I observed several years ago at another church gathering – different church, different people, different outcome.

We had gathered in our small church’s children’s center/dining hall for a night of fellowship. The group mainly consisted of young 20 – 30 year olds, newly married DINKs (Double Income, No kids). After going through the buffet line and piling our plates with fried chicken and mashed potatoes, we sat down and engaged in conversation, discussions of our recent successes, upcoming vacations, and future adventures…which is why no one originally noticed the man in the doorway.

The torn jeans, black rock band T-shirt and long scraggly hair immediately pointed him out as an outsider. His rugged looks did not match the clean-cut, preppy demeanor of the church goers. He stood in the doorway momentarily, looking about the room, wondering who he should approach about his situation.

Soon, whispers circulated the room. A few of the bigger men stood, walked this newcomer into another room and asked what he needed. A few minutes later, one of the men returned and proceeded to tell our group the man’s story: He had come from Austin with a group of friends for a week’s vacation. Apparently, during the previous night’s activities he and his friends became separated. With no way to contact them, no money, and no way home, he was stranded in Dallas. While walking past the church, trying to figure out what he was going to do, he noticed that the church was open and hoped that someone could help him. The man, although appearing rough, was polite and respectful.

After discussing the man’s dilemma amongst the group, the “leader” phoned the pastor for suggestions. Meanwhile, possibilities were discussed: “at least give him some food,” “take him to a shelter” “pool in some money and buy him a bus ticket home,” “give him a ride to help find his friends.” Others spouted off verses completely taken out of context, just so that they wouldn’t feel obligated to help.

I will never forget the final judgment handed down from the pastor: “Escort him out of the building, watch him leave, do not give him anything, then lock the doors behind you.”

Shocked and dumbfounded, I could not believe the attitude in the room and from the leaders. Was this the way Jesus would have responded? What kind of love are we showing? Where’s the compassion? This man was asking for nothing that was harmful or out of bounds…simply some of our food and a small amount of money to get home. I turned to my husband and gave him a look of “this is wrong.” Josh returned the glance. But, we sat still. The final decision had been made and was already in process. Plus, we felt that as the youngest people there (21 & 22), it was not our place to object. So, we sat quiet in disbelief, sadness, and anger.

To this day, I still think often of that man in the doorway. I wonder if he ever saw Christians the same again – changing his thoughts about people who would help, to people who shun those who are different. From people of compassion, to people filled with pride. I also think of the verse, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) Perhaps, that stranger was an angel sent to test the truth of God’s character in our lives. If so, we failed miserably.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. jeremy
    Mar 19, 2008 @ 15:24:58

    this is a tough story to swallow, especially in contrast with pt1. The thing is, even in part one, the action put behind the love and compassion was simple to execute.

    Sometimes God requires so much sacrifice, and yet the times when He only asks for a small sacrifice, such as either of these stories, so many people tend to turn a blind eye.


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