Pastor, could you help me with…

I wonder…what is the strangest request you’ve received for helping another?

This guy walked into my church office. He wasn’t looking for transformation. Nope. He was in search of a transmission. Could my church buy him one? Ah, those desperate, pleading looks!

I do remember him. There was also the young woman who wanted a textbook, the couples who wanted to be married, the fellow who was absolutely honest about booze (and the many who weren’t). The endless folks that wanted a motel room for the night (and a few times for a week). In over twenty-five years of parish ministry, a multitude came into my office: “Please, Pastor, could you . . .”

How many thousands of dollars did I, for Christ’s sake, give away? Which was fine. Sometimes the person pulled a scam, and sometimes the truth—even about the booze—was shared. In that quarter century of as a local church pastor maybe two or three people—total—paid the church back. But everyone said they would.

The guy who wanted the transmission said he’d give the money back as soon as he could return home. The church I served then had a generous pastor’s discretionary fund and we did indeed help him. He drove away. And no, he wasn’t one of the handful that paid his debt. But hey, every time I say the Lord’s Prayer, I remember . . . forgive us our debts. Or trespasses. Or transmissions.

How have you helped another?

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1 Comment

  1. Some of these can be really sad, for us, not them. One Sunday, our regular pastor was out, and we had a supply pastor, a fairly good one, but not intimately familiar with our congregation. He encountered a woman who came to the door before the Sunday service asking for money for food. The supply pastor didn’t have access to any discretionary funds, or were the food basket was for the local shelter, so he had to turn her away. He then interjected it into his sermon, making everyone in the congregation feel bad, some a lot more than others. Turns out, this woman’s job, as she saw it, was to go around to a regular circuit of churches each Sunday asking for money. She was a regular, which our regular pastor knew. The tragedy was not that she didn’t get anything from us, but that her appearance made the congregation depressed, when there was no need to be. The supply pastor would have been much more astute by asking her to go to the shelter we supported, or come back on Monday, when the secretaries were in. … A lesson learned.

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