Even though it has been many years ago, I still remember some of the experiences our family had when we lived in Kansas City, Kan.
One such experience is when we would go to pick up mother in the heart of downtown Kansas City.
Mother taught part-time at a business college. She went to seminary during the day and then teach one night a week at the business college. Since our family just had one car, mother would ride the city bus to the college during the late afternoon for her early-evening class. Later, Susie and I would drive with our daddy to downtown Kansas City to pick her up after class was over.
It was a long drive from the seminary where we lived to the business school. The trip took a good two hours — one hour down and an hour to get back home.
It was common knowledge that driving through downtown Kansas City was risky after dark. Everyone knew about that area of town where the drunk people would assemble. The police warned all the citizens about traveling to downtown Kansas City at night and put all drivers on alert for possible trouble.
It was not uncommon to see people lying on the streets, passed out from too much to drink. As we would drive by, those with staggering gaits stumbled along the sidewalks. Many times we could hear through our rolled up car windows sounds of screaming or loud babbling. Sometimes five or six would be engaged in a brawl. Most times we drove through there we could hear police sirens and see flashing lights because policemen were on their way to break up a fight or investigate an assault.
I remember hearing these stories and being amazed. On our trips downtown, I didn’t want to even see those people because they scared me. So when we would head down that way, I would just get in the back seat and lay down until we got through that part of town. Somehow I felt safe if I could not see what was out there. But I could not help but wonder about those “wretched” people. I would think: Boy am I glad that I am not like them. I have thought about that many times since then.
Now as an adult I recognize a distinct parallel. Sometimes I look at others and behind my spiritual pride I think the exact thing I thought when I saw those people on skid row in Kansas City: Boy am I glad that I am not like them.
But the truth is that none of us is set apart to be better than someone else. So in that regard, we all stand with the pitiful. Paul knew this well and cried out in agony: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7: 24-25) In God’s eyes we all need help — no matter if we are a pathetic sight staggering on the street or an educated person who regards herself a professional. God gave his son to the world because we all needed him equally. Jesus is the only thing that will save any of us.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: