Making a Difference

One Life at a Time

by S. R. Morris

It was a hot morning in June, and Rosalind Akins had already distributed more than 200 bottles of water to homeless men and women in central Phoenix. She had been doing this for nearly two years.

This day she was really feeling the heat and, thinking of her air-conditioned home, she packed six remaining bottles of water in the front seat next to her and headed the car in the direction of home. As she saw the bottles of water out of the corner of her eye, she began to wonder if there were others on the street that day that she had missed.

With a sigh she turned around and headed back to the inner-city streets.

One bottle went to a man who was thirsting for more than a drink of water. He wore dark sunglasses and was panting and perspiring as he reached for the small plastic bottle.

"What church sent you down here today?" he asked as he popped the cap off.

"You don't have to be sent by a church to be kind to someone, do you?" she replied.

Again he asked what church had sent her to do this work. She ignored his question. But he pressed her by asking, "What church do you go to."

No longer able to ignore his inquiries, she mumbled that her church was located on the corner of Seventh Street and Thomas. Then she gave him her cell phone number in case he needed someone to talk to later.

The next morning her phone rang, and it was the man with the dark glasses. He said he would like to go to church with her sometime. She told him that her church met on Saturdays and she was just at that moment getting ready to go to church. She asked if he was interested in going with her. The young man said yes. So Rosalind and her teenaged son picked him up and took him to church.

On the way, Rosalind had an idea. "I'm supposed to share with our church family today from the front, and I was wondering if you would be willing to let me put a paper bag over your head and lead you to the front?"

The young man seemed hesitant, but decided to trust this woman who had given him the water.

Later as Rosalind stood in front of the church with the man next to her with the paper bag over his head, she said, "You don't know who this man is, and that's the way we should always look at people. That's the way God sees us. The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. That's the way we should look at people, isn't it?"

When she finished her remarks she realized her new friend was still standing next to her with the paper bag over his head. When she reached over quickly and removed the bag, there was an audible gasp from the back of the church.

"That's my son!"exclaimed an agitated woman, as she half rose from her seat. She and her son had been estranged and separated for years. But now she hurried to the front and threw her arms around her son, forgetful that others were present.

Since then the lost boy has been attending church service every week, and he and his mother have renewed their relationship. All because of a shared bottle of water.

Adapted from Adventist Review, January 25, 2001, pp. 28, 29.

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