Last month I was waiting my turn at the barber shop, and a homeless woman stuck her head in and said she was hungry. I didn’t want to lose my place, but I told the barber, “Uh…hold my spot, be right back!” I popped over to the bakery right next door and got her some food and drink. As usual, I told her in Spanish, “This is in the name of Jesus, ¿sí?” pointing upward to heaven. She smiled and nodded, she understood, said thank you, and walked off.
Last week I went back to the barber, who told me, “Did you hear about the accident at our corner here, how some woman got mowed down and killed in the street a few weeks back? Well, I need to tell you, she was that same woman you bought the food for.”
It took a while for that to sink in: I was one of the last people to speak to her.
For me, the lesson is: If you’re aiming to do something for the Lord Jesus, or put in a good word for him, well, you’d better do it right away.
An afterthought: yesterday I read a short biography of Francis of Assisi, who purportedly once said, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I get his meaning, but suggest it’s better to say, Preach the gospel, lean heavily on action, but don’t forget to say the words that connect that action to Jesus.
In the above case, one of the worst outcomes I can imagine is if the señora had concluded, “Gee, isn’t he a nice guy!”
“…words are not dispensable. Jesus himself preached and commanded his apostles to preach. We deceive ourselves (but nobody else) if we imagine that our mere presence is sufficient to do the whole work of Jesus. Certainly there are times when words are not appropriate, yet – even in these circumstances – our presence will be a witness to Christ only because we are known to represent a Church which does preach the gospel. And there are also times when silence is betrayal.”
Lesslie Newbigin, `Religious Pluralism: a Missiological Approach’ (1993)
“Act now!” by Gary S. Shogren, Ph. D., Professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica