From Chicken Soup for the African American Soul

Walking by Faith

I am not a special person. I am a regular person who does special things.

Sarah Vaughan

One Sunday morning at the end of an inspiring sermon, my pastor told the congregation, “I want everyone to do something nice for an elder. It really does take a village, and as good Christians, we must take care of our elders. Go out, read to an elder, take someone for a ride, cook dinner, spend time with an elder this week.”

Oh, good, I thought. That should be easy; I can do something special for my mother. Maybe I’ll take her to dinner along with another family friend. It shouldn’t be too hard.

Then my pastor put a special touch to the assignment. “Make sure that you do this for someone you don’t know.”

Oh well, I’ll figure out something later, I told myself. My stomach growled as I drove out of the church parking lot and headed toward the market. I put the challenge out of my mind and started mentally planning my Sunday dinner.

As I was putting groceries in the car, I noticed an older man, a bum, stooping and fumbling with a large trash bag. When I closed the car door, a voice reminded, “Help an elder this day.”

So, I leaned out the car and said, “Excuse me, do you need any help?”

“Oh!” the old man turned and looked up, startled.

All of a sudden, it felt important to help this man.

“Sir, can I help you? Do you need a ride?” I asked, sounding a little more urgent.

“Well, yes,” the old man said. “I do need some help. I bought more than I thought, and I don’t know how I’m going to get all this home.”

Now I really started to pay attention. He was taking all his smaller bags and putting them in a large trash bag and I got the impression he intended to carry his large bag on his shoulders.

“I can give you a ride. It’s no problem,” I said.

“Oh, I live far,” he stated.

At that point, it really didn’t matter where he lived, I knew that this was a divine assignment, and I would have taken him to the moon without hesitation. I stepped out of the car to help him with his groceries, heavy with canned goods, and started loading them into my car.

His name was Hank, and he lived only a few miles from the market, but with his bags it would have been a long walk. As we reached his home, I helped him with his groceries to the door, and he offered to pay me for the ride.

“No, I was glad to help you.”

I told him about the assignment and asked for his phone number.

“I would like to call you sometime this week, just to say hello,” I told him. He gave me his number, and I drove off with the promise of calling him.

When I called the next week, Hank answered the phone.

“Hello,” he said. “I am so very glad that you called. You just don’t know what you did for me. You see, I lost my wife a few years ago, and it has been so hard on me. I’m eighty years old and I have a car I can’t drive anymore because my eyesight is so bad. Nobody has ever offered me a ride unless I pay them.”

The words were tumbling out of his mouth. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he continued. “I had been struggling with my groceries for about an hour, wondering how I was going to get home. I wanted to catch a taxi, but didn’t want to leave my bags. I was getting so upset, I just cried out, ‘God, please help me.’ It seems like right after that I heard a voice say, ‘Excuse me, do you need any help?’”

I took Hank to church with me the following Sunday, and we became friends in the weeks to follow. I had many rich conversations with Hank, and the experience had a profound effect on me because it was a major lesson in obedience. You see, my first thought was that he was a bum, but then I remembered my pastor’s words—or I wonder, Was it the voice of God that I heard?

Deborah Bellis

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners