Message of Jesus’ love always the same

By Judy Brandon: Religion calendar

This past week, I read about the new Lighthouse Mission facility to be constructed this summer.

Over the years, those folks, the Salvation Army and the newer Matt 25 organization have done a tremendous work for many people.

I can remember different days in the 1950’s in Clovis. Daddy was pastor of Central Baptist Church and our experiences were a little different than what I have today.

We lived in the church parsonage. In Clovis, the parsonage wasn’t next door to the church as usually is in little country churches. But it still was the church’s house and we lived in it.

Mother felt since it was the church’s house, we needed to maintain an open door policy. As a result, we always had individuals stopping by our house.

One night a group of motorcyclists drove up and parked in the front yard. A couple in their group wanted to get married and Daddy had to tell all these leather clad strangers that a marriage license was necessary.

Then, travelers in dilapidated cars and out of gas or those hitchhiking through town with no money would just appear at our house. Daddy’s name was in the phone book as pastor, along with our home phone number and address. Strangers could and did show up at any time.

One night, a man rang our doorbell. He was trembling and crying and told Daddy that he had no reason to live. Daddy invited him in to talk.

I knew what was coming. Mother told me to play some “soothing” hymns for him on the piano while she made coffee. Mother was always volunteering me to play the piano for company. I appreciated her confidence but disliked doing it.

Another night we heard a heavy knock on the door. Daddy answered the door and a man, unkempt, in baggy clothes and a small sack of belongings, stood at the door.

“You the preacher?” he asked.

“Yes,” Daddy said. “How can I help you?”

His story was he was hitchhiking through the country and had not eaten in two days.

Of course, Daddy asked him in. Mother told him she would heat up a meal for him. She said, “Make yourself comfortable on the couch.”

She glanced at me with that look. I knew what was coming. Then the dreaded words came: “Judy, why don’t you sit down and play the piano for our guest while I heat his food? Play the hymn that you learned from Mrs. Prothro this week.” (I always learned a new hymn every week from my piano teacher Mrs. Prothro).

Reluctantly I sat dawn and began to play. I will never forget the name of the hymn for that week, “Work for the Night is Coming.” I pounded it out as this shaggy, penniless guy with no job sat and listened.

I am sure that if he knew what hymn it was, he may have thought there was a hidden message. But I wasn’t smart enough to put the two together.

On each occasion, my parents would minister to the person, telling them: “Jesus loves you and cares about you.”

Many years have passed since that night. Times have changed. I can still play the piano. Now mostly food banks and places like the Lighthouse Mission take care of those that need help.

But I do know this: The message is unchanged. It is timely and timeless. Whether it was my parent’s home years ago or if it is the Lighthouse Mission, Salvation Army or Matt 25 today, the message that “Jesus loves and cares about you” is the same.