Sharing with the Preacher : LUSENET : SARO1's Inner Connections : One Thread

Sharing with the Preacher By Robert J. McMullen Jr. My first year at seminary, I did my field work at the state penitentiary in Richmond, Virginia - a cold, creepy place with steel doors that clanged shut. In the infirmary was a young man about my age. His eyes were hard, angry and showing hurt like a cornered animal. Loudly he welcomed me with, "Here comes another one of them preachers. You're all a bunch of hypocrites."

"You're right. And so are you. Welcome to the club," I fired back.

He flung all the usual accusations at me. My answers were not what he expected. Thus began a weekly ritual in which we would talk while those in the other beds listened closely. Soon his story came out.

His family fell apart and he lived in the streets, supporting himself by stealing cars. He was in prison for multiple car thefts. To avoid work detail, he injected his foot with gasoline. He overdid it and his foot was now permanently damaged. He might even lose it. No wonder he was furious. My heart ached for him.

Gradually we learned to respect each other and even had some laughs together. Soon we were discussing our purpose in life. His tone softened. We became friends. He began to think of himself as a Christian.

Then it was time for me to move to my summer fieldwork in a rural church. I felt sad and I noticed the same feeling in him as he asked, "Preacher...this our last day?"

"Yeah. I'm gonna miss you, guy," I replied.

He beckoned me to come to the side of his bed. He put his hand behind my neck and abruptly pulled me down so my ear was next to his mouth. In a whisper, he explained to me in detail the two best ways to hot-wire a car, which cars were easiest to steal and which method worked best on which make of car.

I almost laughed. Me, a minister, stealing cars? Then I realized what he was doing. He was giving me his most precious possession, the one skill he had developed in life.

My eyes filled with tears. All I could do was stammer, "Thanks. If I ever lose my car keys, I'll know what to do. Take care of yourself, buddy." I left hurriedly so people wouldn't see the tears running down my face.

At that moment, I learned that love is expressed in many different ways.

-- SAR01 (, July 10, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ