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February Activate Post: Inconvenient interruptions


“'Go,' Jesus said.” - Mark 10:52 (NIV)

Last month I visited my 80-year-old mother in my hometown, making a quick stop at the local country buffet to pick up a late lunch. While walking in, I greeted a man in tattered attire leaning over the antiquated newspaper stand outside.

I spoke to him although I had already dismissed his gestural hints for help. Not today, I thought.

He spoke back in a voice of desperation as he made the ask for basic necessities—toiletries, rat poison, and a blanket.

Rat poison?

I walked into the restaurant with rat poison on my mind and prepared two takeout plates from the buffet. Butter beans, collard greens, baked chicken, stewed rutabagas, black-eyed peas, and steamed okra filled the plates. And, a heaping of humility.

“Here you are,” I said, slipping him bills.

“Thank you,” he replied.

Extending my hand, “I’m Regina.”

“I’m Ben,*” he said.

As we kept chatting, I explained that I had to get to my mother’s home and apologized that I could not offer more. When I asked where he was staying, he told me of the vile and abusive behavior against him in the local homeless shelter that landed him in a cold, abandoned house nearby. As we chatted, Ben and I realized that we had mutual friends. Before leaving the restaurant parking lot, I gave Ben a tube of lotion and a bottle of water.

Always willing to bring relief to the homeless, my mother gathered some new, unused personal hygiene items from her bathroom closet and snatched a few the men’s Christmas gift sets she had stashed to give away throughout the year. We set out an hour later to deliver Ben’s gifts.

As we approached the restaurant, Ben was nowhere to found. We drove and drove. Ben was gone.

After several weeks, Ben’s toiletries still ride around town with me as a reminder that I missed an opportunity to share the love of Christ with deodorant, toothpaste, and lip balm. I cannot get Ben off of my mind.

As we continue the Lenten journey and reflect upon Jesus’ intentional meetings with the blinded Bartimaeus and the immigrant Samarians, Christ meets us to make room in these 40 days for inconvenient interruptions, unexpected encounters, and unmerited favor toward others.

Regina H. Moore is a TMS Global consultant working with the church ministry department. She is a member of the North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church as an ordained elder. A former young-adult missionary who has preached and taught the gospel with a passion for social justice in more than 20 countries, Regina lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband, Nick.

*Pseudonym used for privacy.