Who is your neighbor?
By Terry Masango, Captain –
I was there to meet and greet. I was at the Senior Olympics to encourage the runners, to move around the people and be seen, as a leader. I was simply there for the work.
There he was, about 6 feet tall. He was chewing some food. He mumbled something. I pretended to listen, but did not pay much attention. He asked again, a little louder this time. “Terry, do you still like me?”
I said, “Yes, of course, John.” As I said those words, I quickly looked away. I held my breath for a while. You see, when John chews his food, crumbs and this yellowish goo drip down his scruffy beard. John does not take regular showers, if any at all. Truthfully, he emits an unpleasant body odor.
I wanted to get away. I feared looking at the drool on John’s face was going to make me lose my breakfast. I turned around and walked fast, back to my office. As I walked to the office, I heard God say, “But you eat meals with wealthy people. You go for lunches with clean people. John just asked if you liked him, and you said, ‘Yes.’ You lied.”
The conviction was swift. My heart sank. I promised myself I would eat a meal with John sometime in the next few years. That did not work. I had to do something sooner than that. I told my wife “I am going to take John to a sit-down restaurant for lunch before the end of the month.” I had to be specific. She was surprised. So was I. Would I be able to do it?
Last Sunday, my daughter and I went out to lunch with John. As we walked into Greek Chicken restaurant, all heads turned and looked at us. I planned that we would offer to sit outside. I was convicted, once again. We ordered our lunch and sat down—inside—to eat. As soon as I saw the drool, I almost lost it. My lunch, that is. I gave John a bunch of napkins. He seemed to enjoy his chicken and fries. I enjoyed my food, and the discussion. We had a wonderful conversation about his family and his shelter.
Soon, I did not smell the bad body odor. Soon, I forgot about the drool and crumbs on his chin and clothes. It was just three people—God’s children sharing a meal together. It was one of my favorite meals. I will never forget this day. Thank you God for convicting me. Thank you John for helping me put things into perspective. And, yes, I still like you. John is more than my neighbor—he is my brother in Christ.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV).