Recently Neal, a man in his upper sixties, was visiting with a fellow who’s about five years his junior. The younger man has not had an easy path in life. Neal, a committed Jesus Follower, had met with this man on a couple of occasions. This man, I’m not sure of his name but for now I’ll call him John, was sharing with Neal what was for him a significant incident in from early in life that still affected him all these years later.
John was born into a very poor family that lived on the edge of a small village in Sothern Manitoba. He did not do well in school; in fact he told Neal that he was the only student in the fourth grade with a driver’s licence. John, having come from a very rough home, was a consistent disruption in the class and was constantly getting into mischief. He was certainly no stranger to the principal’s office or to the strap, but the discipline didn’t change his behavior.
The teacher for the grade four to eight class was a young man just out of university. He was only about five years older than John. This particular occaission, rather than send John to the principal’s office for the routine strapping, the young teacher instead told John to meet him at his car after school.
Not sure of what to expect, John arrived at the car and was invited to get in. They travelled to the next town, which was a little bigger, and stopped at the coffee shop. The teacher took John inside and bought him a coffee and a doughnut. John told Neal that it was the first doughnut he’d ever had. He couldn’t remember what they talked about, but the simple, caring act of buying a doughnut for a troubled kid had an impact that affected him to this day.
When Neal found out that the teacher’s name was Henry Banman, he began to grin. You see, Neal and Henry have been lifelong friends. As it turns out Henry, who now lives in Alberta, was going to be visiting soon, and Neal immediately began to plan a surprise blessing for his old friend.
When I heard that story I immediately recalled Jesus’ words in Matt 25:40. “Whatever you did for someone overlooked or ignored, you did to me.” What will you do this week that will resonate not just in this lifetime, but for eternity?
By the way, I heard this story from my Father-in-law, Henry Banman. He still buys people doughnuts, and meals, and occasionally even a vehicle.