One of the Least of these
(Another contribution from Anne Snider)
It was on a very hot and sultry Monday in August of 2000 when Evan took his regular morning jaunt out to the barn and quickly discovered that the some of the baby pigs were either dead or dying. He was taken aback with what he encountered and wondered what was causing this intrusive, unwanted invasion in his barn. Each successive visit was more disheartening than the first. More and more piglets were dying and Evan, with a despairing heart, had to pick them up and walk them out to the incinerator.
The veterinarian came in but couldn’t really assess what the problem was. He recommended medication but the siege continued. It seemed like healthy piglets in the morning were dead by the end of the day. Evan has always been positive and encouraging but this really impacted him as piglets are the very core of his operation. Each successive day brought more heaviness of heart and the spring in his step had slowed to a crawl.
His spirit was so downcast the following Sunday after another discouraging morning in the barn that he had no desire to worship. Little did he know that God was preparing him for worship beyond what he could ever have imagined.
In the late afternoon, there was a knock on our front door. I went to answer it and found, to my surprise, a man in his early thirties or so standing there. He looked disheveled and somewhat disoriented. I looked around and could see no vehicle so I asked him where he came from. He told me that he came from “that way” pointing north then “no, that way” pointing in the other direction. I knew immediately that God had sent him to us but I was unaware of the purpose of his visit. All that he asked for was a glass of water. I quickly invited him inside and sat him down at the table calling for Evan all the while. I never could have envisioned what would follow.
Evan soon joined us in the kitchen and proceeded to welcome our stranger. We gave him his glass of water and a meal and tried our best to converse with him. He told us his name. was Paul Williams. The man was obviously mentally challenged and after finishing his meal announced, “You’re going to take me home, right?” Evan answered in the affirmative and we all got in the car to take him home but would he know the way?
Surprisingly, he knew exactly where he was headed directing Evan at every turn and we soon pulled into the driveway of a lovely home in Bridgeport, twenty three kilometers away from our home in the country. A woman came to the door and was so relieved to see him that she immediately embraced him warmly. She then came over to the car and asked us where we had found him. She was surprised to learn of the location of our farm and told us that the previous evening he had told her that he had to get up early in the morning because he had somewhere to go. He usually just walked around Bridgeport and most of the people living in the area knew him but others might turn the other way or cross the street to avoid contact as he was ‘one of the least of these.’
She shared that he had a younger sister who was married and had a couple of children but she developed a brain disorder that changed her personality completely. She could no longer be the wife and mother she had once been and found it increasingly difficult to cope. It wasn’t long before she passed away. Paul was her second child and had been a plumber when he developed the same brain disorder. Specialists were doing a study on them to try to discern what was causing such devastation to this family. She wondered if her eldest would have the same fate.
Evan immediately began to weep openly and the woman, quite taken aback, asked why he was in tears. He proceeded to tell her of his situation at home stating that he was losing pigs from small up but she was losing her children! It shook us to the very core of our being putting everything into perspective and we knew that God was in control and we could rest in Him. We shared for another few minutes then went on our way home delighting in the fact that God cared so much for us.
It wasn’t long afterwards that we saw Paul’s obituary in the paper. We drove back to his home in Bridgeport and chatted with his mother once again. We thanked her so very much because God had used her son, ‘one of the least of these,’ to speak to our hearts that day. Paul could have stopped at any place along the way – a convenience store, a gas station or any house on any street but he continued his very long and arduous journey until he reached his destination -our front door - and simply asked for a glass of water.
Father, forgive us for acting as if You were not present in our moments of need, hurt or anger.
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