A true story given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, 12/15/02
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:1-7). Thus begins the poignant story of the Savior's birth in Bethlehem in Judea. He came into a world that knew him not and there was no room for Him at the Inn. God is in the business of Inn building, it seems to me, and something happened this Saturday which touched both Lenny and me, and put a smile on our lips and joy in our hearts.
Saturday morning the phone rang and a voice said, "Is this the Gospel Light House Church?" I told him that it was not, and when he said he needed help, I said, "The Lord bless you in finding what you need," or something like that. My mention of God opened the flood gates and his story began to pour out. He was in the Neosho Inn, and they were going to throw him and his family out on the street if he couldn't come up with the room rent of $40.00. I hardly got a word in as he explained that his car had blown its engine on Highway 71, down by Anderson and someone had brought them to this motel. Now, he had to have help or his family would be kicked out. There was room at this Inn, but only if you could pay the $40.00. He told me the deadline to come up with the money was "1:00 PM." It was 12:45 when I looked at my watch, and I hung up saying we would try to find him some help. Lenny and I agreed that this call was most likely from the Lord. How the man got us, when he was trying to call the Gospel Lighthouse Church was, and still is a mystery. The only explanation was that God had arranged it.
We had been blessed the day before with a $50.00 check from friends who support the ministry. We looked at each other and knew that this money had found a home. Lenny said, "Call him back and tell him we're on the way with the money." When I called, he told me that someone he had called that morning had come through with one more day's room rent, but he pleaded with me to come to see him. He said that he and his wife were at the end of their rope, and they needed to talk to someone. Would we come? We said we would right after lunch.
We got there at 1:30, and for the next hour and a half, listened to his rambling story. He said over and over again that they had no family, no where to go. What he meant was he needed a soft spot to land, and his family wasn't there to provide it for them. He told us a long sad epic about how two of his children had been taken from them in Denver, and he felt he needed to go back and get them out of the system. Someone had done him wrong, he said, adding that the Child Welfare Services had no right to take the children. How he was going to do that with no job, no car, and no money didn't seem to enter into his calculations.
My left brain was approaching meltdown, and I kept asking him questions, trying to bring him back to the point at hand. Lenny said nothing, but drummed his fingers on the chair arm and so I knew the wheels were turning. The couple have a beautiful five year old daughter, Cheyenne, named after the City in Wyoming where she was born. He said several times that it was time for him to step up to the plate and get his children back. I asked him how he planned to do that without a car, a job and money, and his only answer to that and all my questions was, "God will provide." Seeing he wouldn't be deterred from this goal, I got on the phone and called Greyhound Bus lines to see how much it would cost to get him to Denver from Neosho. It was $128.00/ per adult, one way, plus whatever it would have been for the child. It might as well been $12,000. He said, "How much to Joplin?" I found out the answer and then asked him, "What good will it do to go to Joplin? You don't have a car or money or work there either!"
Finally, Lenny looked him square in the face and asked, "Are you on drugs?" I had been thinking the same thing, but could come up with no diplomatic way to ask him. Lenny just asked in that disarming way he has of getting right to it. The man said, "No sir, I'll tell you the truth. I haven't been on no drugs for seven years." Put it this way, he could have walked onto a Hollywood set and applied for a role as a drug abuser and not had to go to wardrobe or makeup first. He looked the part, talked the part, and his mind was scattered all over the place.
I called my cousin who works for a local construction company to see if they had work, but he was out and we left a message on his voice mail. Lenny called one of our friends from his men's Sunday School class to see if he had any vacant trailers or some work for them. He said he'd call back. Meanwhile, my lungs were beginning to burn from the second hand smoke that filled up the room, and so I suggested we go home and call them when we had more information.
By the time we got home, our friend had stopped by and handed us $50.00 to give them. He said this is what the Lord had said, and he only does what he hears from the Lord, which is wonderful. He also suggested we contact a couple of Pastor friends of his who work with the homeless and the down and out here in Neosho. They are involved with a Christian shelter here called Compassionate Ministries. I called the Pastor of the Gospel Light Church, a lovely, warm and caring woman, with whom I bonded instantly. She told me that the shelter was purchased by a Christian in town who makes the payments on it. The church rehabbed the building and operates on donations from the community. She said it is clean and warm, and safe, with good food and they do help them find jobs and get on their feet again.
Lenny felt led to throw the $50.00 we had gotten the day before into the kitty and we headed back up to the Neosho Inn to talk to our new friends. The man had insisted earlier that he would not go to a shelter. The first visit, we came to listen to him, but now, we came to talk. Lenny has two sons, one has passed on to glory and the other one now lives in Pennsylvania. Both have had past trouble with drugs, and both have this scattered way of thinking and dealing with life that this man displayed. Lenny told him that he understood where he had been, and that drugs do a real number on the cognitive side of the brain. The man was so relieved that someone understood. He said again that both he and his wife had some real problems in their lives when they met, but they had pledged to each other that they would stay sober, and they have done that. They both love the Lord, and had expressed a desire to go to church Sunday.
He stubbornly resisted going to a shelter, however, even though we told him that it is free, clean, warm, safe, serves good food, and they will help him find a job. He said rather defiantly, "I can get a job, no problem. I can do anything."
"That's great," I countered, "but you have no car and no money and no way to get to a job. These people can help you." I also told them that the Gospel Light House Church has a van that picks people up for services and they would come pick them up. Then I got a flash, and called the Pastor back and asked her if our friends could put their things in the back of the van and after church, would the van drive them to the shelter. That would keep them out of trouble with the Neosho Inn, who was expecting to be paid promptly at 12:00 PM Sunday, and would be the answer to their transportation problems as well. This Pastor is such a dear lady and she said, "Of course. That will work perfectly." So, we left it with them that they could talk about it, pray about it, and they would let me know that night.
Before we left, Lenny told him that the drugs had ruined his sequential logic and he needed to allow his wife to help him manage the money because she is very logical and appears to have common sense. Surprisingly, he agreed. She is also a very loving mother and I can see that the child has been loved and cared for, in spite of the parents' dire circumstances.
Then they told us the story of how they got to the Neosho Inn. Their car had thrown a rod through the engine. I have no idea what that really means, except that the car was finished, through, done for. They pulled over to the side of the road, right where a cop car was parked. The cop pulled over behind them, lights flashing, and as he did, a pickup which had been behind them pulled in front of their dead car. She said she was a bit frightened, but what happened next astounded all of them. The man in the pickup bought their dead car for junk metal for $300.00, packed up all their belongings in his pickup, and brought them to the Neosho Inn, where he helped them carry everything up stairs. They have with them all their worldly goods, except what is stored in Denver. The little girl, who is bright and lovely had said, "Mommy, do you see it?" What she saw was an angel in the doorway behind the man. They really think that it was an angel who rescued them, and it was the money he gave them that had allowed them to stay in the Inn until Saturday.
As we left, Lenny took out the $100.00 and gave it to him, saying it was from the Lord. He immediately handed it to her and said, "She's the banker." She burst into tears and it was a sweet moment, which I refused to allow my logical mind to ruin. I was thinking, "He's so stubborn, he may use the money to avoid going to a shelter and then it will be all gone, where will they be?" That kind of thinking goes back to my codependency and need to control issues, which are all nonsense, for God is in charge, and He knows what they will do, and how He will resolve it if they take an alternate course to the one I had envisioned.
I'm not very comfortable in these situations, so I was very grateful for Lenny, who is so good with people, so intuitive of their feelings and sometimes, it almost seems like he can read their minds. He assured me as we left, "God will take care of it. We've done what we can." I'm not concerned about the grown ups, though the man is really about 17 years old emotionally, living in an adult body. My concern is for the child, but again, she looked happy and healthy, vibrant and full of five year old inquisitiveness and zest for living.
I know nothing about the beliefs of The Gospel Light House Church, whom I never heard of before, but I can say that they have their priorities straight. Their mission, as exemplified by the Compassionate Ministries cares for the homeless and hungry, and ministers to the hurting poor who are adrift on the sea of life. Their work reminds me of Jesus' statement in Matthew 25:
"Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'" Matthew 25:32-40, RSV.
God used this experience to show me His care for the hurting, no matter what bad choices they may have made to bring them to this place. Unlike some, God does not qualify a person based on his merits or character before helping him. Harry Fox has a marvelous lesson on the Beatitudes along these lines. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:3,4, RSV). Harry points out that the poor have always been shunned, shamed, and scolded for being in the wretched position they're in. Along comes Jesus, who did not condemn them, but blessed them and promised them the kingdom of heaven. Surely only the rich might expect to go there, but the Lord of Life, the Light of the World promised them that they too would partake of God's riches. Harry says that this unexpected blessing reduced them to tears of joy and gratitude. The world would say, "Stop sniveling, you miserable people. Get your act together and you won't be in this situation." Jesus did not rebuke them for their tears, but promised them comfort. Oh, what a Savior we serve, what a Lord we have reigning on the throne of our lives. We join the multitude of heavenly host in singing praises to our God, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14).
I never noticed this last part before, that God is pleased with men. Hallelujah. Luke also said, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish" (Luke 6:35, RSV). It melts all rebellion away to know that God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. I think that just about covers everyone, don't you?
John the Beloved was transported to the Throne Room of God, "where a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Rev. 7:9-10).
We fall upon our faces before Him, and with the angels, the elders, and the four living creatures, we worship Him saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen" (Rev. 7:12). Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Born in a Barn
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 12/17/92
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/29/08.