An urgent phone call, “Come quick, a major problem in the Computer room!”. I avoided the elevators and flew up the stairwell. Halfway up I passed a cleaning lady mopping the stairs. “Morning..how are you today?” to which I got the reply, “Eh…I’m okay.”
I got to the next landing and slowed to a halt, turned around, walked back down to the cleaning lady and asked, “What did the ‘Eh’ mean?”. She just quietly poured out her story of an abusive, alcoholic husband who beat her and her child and she thought that if she were to kill herself then child services would take away the child to protect – she was planning to go home and suicide that morning.
Being pressed to respond to the phone call, I urged her to come to my office before she left work and I would pray for her – she agreed. I then shot up to the Computer Room only to find the emergency had resolved itself and no longer existed. I did pray for her and that her husband would never lay his hands on her or the child again. Even though I looked, I didn’t see her again.
A few years later, a vibrant woman claimed me on the steps of the bank building, and asked if I remembered her. Nope. But, it was the same woman and she now looked so different. The answer to that prayer a few years before was answered immediately. When she arrived home, her drunken husband went to get up in anger, suffered a massive heart attack and fell back into his chair, dead! Her life turned around from that point on; went to church, made Jesus her Lord and Saviour, changed jobs, moved to her own place and was a changed woman.
To my shame, there was a time I probably would not have even acknowledged that cleaning lady in the stairwell. But I was now a new Christian and I was learning to love everyone, regardless of station in life, social status, colour, race, etc. And it was brilliant!
See, Jesus set the example with the Samaritan woman at the well mentioned in John 4:1-38. He was traveling, out of his way, through Samaria – a place Jews typically would cross the Jordon and travel on the other side of the river just to avoid the place.
And Jesus meets an outcast Samaritan woman at the well in the middle of the day. She was the lowest of low for that time and culture. She was a woman, considered lower than a dog, for starters. Then a Samaritan one at that. Even worse, she was an outcast amongst her own people for she had to draw water in the heat of the day and not in the early morning or evening, as the other woman would. Even she was taken by surprise.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:9
But Jesus continues to engage in conversation with her. He even reveals to her, through a word of knowledge, the source of her shame and why she was an outcast – married 5 times and now living with another man. Jesus impacts her life to the point where she returns to the town and tells everyone she has met the Christ. Words from an outcast Samaritan woman!
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” John 4:39
We may never know the impact we can have on someone if we don’t give them the time of day.
Does the colour of a person’s skin put you off? Do different nationalities put you off? Does someones station in life put you off? Will you be bold enough to engage in conversation with others different to you? Will you speak words of encouragement into someone’s life, just because you can?
The rewards may well be eternal!
Who will you spot to encourage today?