Additional "The 6 After Sunday" Articles


Second Chances
Published: 3/26/2011 1:48:22 PM


He was dirty. His hands were scarred. And he called on me to help him.

I never caught his name.

"Hey man, I need some gas for my truck to get back into the city.”

I knew I shouldn’t have answered the church doorbell. I was trying to get my work done, I didn’t have much time, and truth be told, our congregation was tight on money. So I slid him our official line, deposited some goodwill, and turned back toward my office: "Try the Salvation Army.”

He grabbed the door. "I went there this morning. They said they’re all out ‘cause it’s the end of the month. Look, man: I work hard, with my hands, laying concrete block. I just need some gas money. I need some help.”

"Well, we can’t help you. Sorry. God bless you!”


He, too, was dirty. His hands were scarred. And he called on me to help him.

His name was Russell.

"Two S’s ‘n two L’s! Wuzyur name?”

"Don. D-o-n.” I didn’t know if he was drunk, had a speech impediment, or both.

"Nizuhmeetyou, Don. Cudzou spare a doll or two?”

I slid my card into the ATM, deposited a $10 check Russell evidently needed more than me, and turned back toward him. "For what?”

"Oh I dunno…Idzay ‘zteakneggs,’ but I dunno wut yur offerin’!”

It was my day off, I had plenty of time, and truth be told, plenty of money. "Well, how about a sandwich? I can go over to the grocery store and get you one.”

"That’d be great, Don!” We shook hands—his were rough, from years of rolling his wheelchair.

"N’ Don, howboutzum coffee, too? Lil’ sugar? Nzumcream?”

"Sure, I can do that. I’m happy to help you, Russell.”


I met the first man on Tuesday, giving him little more than a superficial "God bless you” as he drove away on fumes. I went back to my office frustrated…at myself, at missing an opportunity to share God’s love, and at our church’s seeming lack of ability to help a neighbor in need. And then I asked God for forgiveness and I pleaded with the Lord for a second chance to help.

I met Russell less than one week later, giving him a sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a hearty "God bless you” as I drove away on a full tank of gas. I went back home grateful…for the Lord, for second chances, and for the God-given ability to help a neighbor in need. The Lord heard my prayer and answered it.

God calls each of us to love our neighbors as ourselves—to serve in the vocation of neighbor and mercifully do for others what we would have them do for us (see Luke 10:26-37). To be sure, we will never love and serve others perfectly, this side of heaven, as my own experience attests. But we can take heart that our God is a God of second chances—a God who hears our prayers and answers them.

Our God was dirty. His hands were scarred. And he calls on us to help others.

His name is Jesus.

Don Ray

Visit his website at

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