The rough, older man sat across my desk, the smell of cigarettes filling the room. Yet, somehow, I hardly heard him, barely saw him. My attention was drawn instead to the small boy sitting beside him, brown hair hanging into his eyes. He looked so incredibly vulnerable. How long had it been since he’d eaten?
Greg and I had been at lunch ourselves when I received the call from my assistant. “There’s a man in the lobby asking for you. He packed all of his things and claims he’s moving to 3ABN.” I took a deep breath. Why do ministries inspire people to show up like that?
Returning to the office, I headed for the lobby. This should be routine. The usual request for a job. The standard line of “nothing available with your skill set at this time.” And life would go on.
Stepping into the lobby, I paused. He had a little boy with him! I reached out to shake the dad’s hand, then turned to the little guy, mentally guessing him to be about 8. “My name’s Jill. How old are you?”
I saw all their worldly possessions in the back seat of the car.
He tossed his head to the side, flipping the hair out of his eyes. “I’m Seth, and I’m almost 13.” He held out his hand, amazingly confident for such a young person.
We headed to my office and talked. It was the usual: history of drugs, amazing deliverance. The story began to change when he shared how God had given him messages to deliver to others. He just needed a place to stay, a job, and an outlet for the words God gave him.
I wondered if the boy was really his. Was he OK? If I didn’t give the dad a job, where would they live? How would the boy eat? My thoughts whirled as the dad talked. Suddenly I realized it was quiet. Say something, Jill.
Leaning forward, I spoke about 3ABN not having any jobs right now for his skill set. About our inability to divert donor funds for other projects, such as his need for an apartment. As the words tumbled out, I glanced at the boy. Somehow that scripture from James crept, unbidden, into my mind. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15, 16).
I felt so hypocritical, saying the right words, while pushing away one of His children. Why must policies and procedures be followed?
Then I thought of our local Seventh-day Adventist church. Perhaps they would help! I assured the dad that our church would like to give them a hotel room and a gift card for food. Perhaps a local business would hire him. The boy brightened as he talked about his cat. We went outside to their car, the cold wind whipping my coat. He seemed so pleased as he showed me his cat. I saw all their worldly possessions in the back seat of the car.
What was one night in a hotel in the face of such need? I watched them drive away, sick at heart.
Could I have done more? Should I have done more? Maybe; only time will tell.
Jill Morikone is vice president and chief operations officer for Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN), a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.