I couldn’t really describe the Moore experience in a thousand blogs, and I don’t really need to. I simply got a call from a friend saying there was a need to help some people and an opportunity to serve. To give up a day of my life to help some people whose lives were in ruins at the moment, and to enjoy the company of some friends in helping, that seemed a small sacrifice and a no-brainer. Besides, my good friend Chuck invited me.
As I’ve mentioned, it seemed to me that the Lord saved the best to last that day! We did get to help some people personally, to get really close to where and how they live, to touch each other at a deeply spiritual and human level. And we saw that their main needs were not really material but moral, mental, spiritual, and emotional.
This situation is typical I’m sure, but the man and the encounter I’m going to describe to you is anything but typical. Really all people are atypical. They have their own lives, how they’ve lived them, and their own stories.
The picture of this old man, poor, but kept, with strength and dignity is what looms large in my mind from Moore, and it will forever. It was a deeply fulfilling, touching, holy moment for me as Chuck and I stood on his steps and he on his porch, the porch of the only standing house within view.
We had done some debris removal and physical labor next door for his neighbor with the storm cellar, but there wasn’t much to be done physically any longer. An army of Mennonites with bobcats and chainsaws had swept in to help along with others. They had water and food. The long process of rebuilding would begin in time.
The old man conveyed that to us, along with his profound, heart-felt gratitude for all the help he’d received. “People have been so good to us,” he said reflecting, followed by a single large tear streaming from his right eye to his chin.
There was some silence, and pause; none of this happened quickly. My friend Chuck said, “Looks like you could use a hug.” I was grateful he said that, because I was feeling the same thing, but not knowing what to do or say. The old man nodded his head slowly up and down. Chuck climbed up on the porch, and gave him a long, strong manly hug. With the both of them facing me and our Israeli friend, the tears began to flow like streams from both eyes. No sobbing or crying, just streams as the man looked out over the rolling hills toward the horizon. Silence followed. Time. Open ears and open hearts.
The stress of the tornado and destruction all around them had brought some real and deep life issues to the surface; issues not easily, if ever, shared with strangers. The old man began to speak. “The day of the tornado, my grandson cursed me and my wife. We raised him, but I told him he wasn’t acting like a Frazer*, and I thought it best that he leave our home, and he did.” After some silence I said, “Can I pray for you and your grandson?” He said, “Please do.” Our hats removed, I asked God to have mercy on everyone involved, to forgive and protect the young man, and to restore the relationship in time. The old man nodded his agreement and appreciation, and added with more tears streaming down his face, “Please pray for my little great granddaughter Kennedy, I don’t know what will become of her?” I did immediately and I have ever since. Please join me in a prayer for Kennedy if you will.
That old man showed me something I wasn’t expecting in that moment. I came to help, but I received help, insight, and instruction.
He showed me the heart of a real man; a heart that beats for his children, and his children’s children. A heart of sacrifice. A heart that never stops caring. Never stops standing for them.
I think I saw the heart of God.
* Name changed for privacy.