Would we be true to the Gospel?
Going the extra mile for a hitchhiker
It was a bitterly cold December evening in England, and I was travelling home along the highway from where I had been working. The alternator on my car was malfunctioning, and with the bad weather the battery was quickly draining. I stopped at a service area just north of Manchester to check the car and see if I could make any adjustments. As I was getting back onto the highway, I noticed a hitchhiker with a sign saying South Wale.
Well, South Wales is a long way from Manchester, and it was a cold night. I stopped to say that I would give him a lift to the service area near to where I lived. At least it would bring him further South.
Once inside my car the man, named Andy, told me that he had been in a public employment office that morning and had seen a vacancy advertised for a kitchen porter at a hotel in South Wales. As the employment agency had no funds available for travel expenses, he decided to hitchhike. As well as having no money for travel, he also told me he had no money for food.
My first thought was that it was rather stupid to set off on such a long journey without food and money, but on second thought, who was I to judge to what lengths some people would go to get a job? I offered to take him home to have supper with us and then take him back to the gas station by the highway.
I had a problem though. The nearer I got to home, the dimmer the headlights shone, as my car’s alternator was failing. There would not be enough charge in the battery that night to get home and back to the highway.
We arrived home, and I introduced Andy to my wife and teenage daughter. While I prepared something to eat, they chatted together and got along very well. After we had finished eating, Andy needed to go to the bathroom. This gave me the opportunity to explain to my wife and daughter my original plan. However, now because of the problems with the car, we might need to offer Andy a bed for the night.
At first they were concerned about having a complete stranger stay, especially when our daughter was a teenager, but they had built up a good relationship with him. If we wanted to be true to the Gospel message of “when I was hungry, you gave me to eat,” then we should be happy about it. He could sleep downstairs on our very comfortable sofa in a sleeping bag. Needless to say, Andy was delighted to take up the offer.
The following morning was bright and sunny. After a hearty breakfast and having prepared Andy a packed lunch, we checked that the car had enough charge in the battery. We set off for the service station with Andy promising to keep in touch with my family.
As I left I gave him £10 just in case he needed to get a bus or something else to eat. He promised to return the money at the end of the month after he had been paid. I set off for the mechanic’s to get the alternator repaired.
When I got home from work that evening, my wife said that she had a phone call mid-afternoon from Andy saying that he had received two rides, had been given a warm welcome at the hotel, and that he’d been offered a job there.
A week later, we received a postcard with a picture of the hotel on the front, saying that the job was going well. At the end of the month we received a letter from Andy thanking us for our food and warmth that night. He also enclosed £10.
M. W., England
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