"Hey mister...got anything for me?"

In 1984 Annie and I moved to Arizona to start a church.  We did it the hard way with no people and no place to meet except our living room.  In time, we rented a facility and God graciously sent us some people to love and lead. 


I remember our first Thanksgiving as a church so clearly (we were only eleven months old and had seventy five people).  Our infant church collected food and had enough to help four different families with their Thanksgiving meals.  I recall feeling very proud that we were able to help some people during that first Thanksgiving season and truthfully, was really hoping that we would have the chance to assist many others as the years went by. 


We met at the church and divided into four cars, each taking an entire meal to a struggling family.  Bill and I drove to an apartment in a rough part of Phoenix’s inner city.  You know how it goes… it took forever to find the right apartment in the maze of similar looking buildings and doors.  When we finally found the right place we greeted the family and unloaded four boxes of food.  I again experienced pride that we were far enough along that we could help others at this key time.


As we left, a small 8 year old boy called out to us.  His words haunt me to this day “Hey mister, do you have anything for me?”  We didn’t.  The wonderful feelings we were enjoying escaped as I told him we had given everything we had away.  I failed that day.  I should have gone to the store and pulled out my nearly maxed out credit card and purchased some food for his family also.  But I didn’t.   I am ashamed of that.


I determined that day to never let that happen again.   


Those words have lived with me all these years and I hear them in other places too.  Like in church on Sunday mornings, or when I am greeting people as they file in.  No one says those words audibly but I know that almost everyone is thinking them as they attend Central for the first time.  Their spirits are screaming at them as they walk in the doors, “Hey mister do you have anything for me?” 


Every time I have the chance to greet someone new, counsel a new friend who is in trouble, smile when my eyes meet the eyes of another, or have the chance to pray with attendees at the end of a service, those words help me to stay focused and care more.   I hope they help you as well.

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