Big Deeds or Little Deeds?
I just finished reading the July 2019 online version of the Christian Chronicle, a brotherhood newspaper that’s been around since I was young. It usually features stories about people who are doing good in the world, blessing others as God has asked us to do. The July 2019 issue features a story about Dr. Kent Brantly, the doctor who caught ebola in Africa in 2014 and is now returning to Africa to serve in the Mukinge Mission Hospital in Zambia. It also included a story by Nancy Oelhert who survived two surgeries for brain cancer. After being given a second chance at life, Nancy felt like I did after I beat cancer with God’s help. How could she be of service to God? She works to help children in the foster care system.
Throughout my life, as I read stories about missionaries going to work in difficult areas, people who have changed churches, and those who have started ministries in cities that have made a huge difference, I felt like I was doing nothing for God. At least, like all these marvelous people, I was doing nothing wonderful. I helped rear my two sons to be outstanding citizens, I taught hundreds, no thousands, of children in public schools and adults in college, I did church bulletins, taught Bible school classes, ladies’ classes, and worked in Vacation Bible Schools. Nothing fantastic, just everyday living.
Yesterday we received a call from Julio. “Mr. Ed (my husband), we have no food. And we need a fan.” We have known Julio and Luz and their German shepherd Captain for probably eight years. We used to walk in our neighborhood picking up aluminum cans to give to a small church who turned them in to the recycle place for money to send their children to Bible camps. Julio and Luz were huge contributors to our cause. We usually picked up between 200 and 300 cans from them every two to three weeks.
Beer cans, all of them. Julio told us he spent thirty years in jail. We never asked why. It didn’t matter, for he was in need. We helped him and Luz move from one run-down rental to another. Three times. We brought them food. We took them to the doctor when their health started to fail.
Someone bought the property where they were living, and they were forced to move. Together they brought in just a little over $700 each month. Where could they find someplace they could afford that would take Captain? That is almost an impossibility in Denver.
We don’t know how, but they had moved to a small trailer park about fifteen miles away. We cleaned up a fan that we weren’t using. I grabbed some canned foods from our pantry. We bought a sack of potatoes, spaghetti and sauce, a three-pound roll of ground beef, two packages of lunch meat, cheese, and bread and headed for their address. It was nearly 100 degrees outside, and we drove in rush-hour traffic.
When we arrived at the address Julio had given us, we couldn’t find them. Three small trailer parks were shoved together, and the narrow streets inside them were lined with cars until our car could barely pass. We searched the first two trailer parks and couldn’t find them.
We found them in the third trailer park. Their residence was a throw-away travel trailer. The doors and windows were broken. No yard and no place for Captain, so they had placed bars over the door so he couldn’t get out. “I had to get some running water in here and get the toilet working,” Luz told us. “We have no money left for food. And this place is like a tin can, so we need that fan.”
Julio hobbled to the door on scrawny, bowed legs. “He’s been in the hospital five times this year,” Luz said. “I don’t think he’s going to be here much longer.”
On our way back to our comfortable home, I thanked God for our blessings. I realized that it’s not the big things we do for God that count, but the little things that help the least of these. Yes, in society’s eyes, Julio and Luz are nobodies, but they are made in God’s image and are precious to Him. I believe taking care of them is as important to God as are the deeds of those who do great things. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name…” (Hebrews 6:10, ASV).