Orphan Survival Stories Index |
He appeared to be very nervous as he walked through the large, wooden church doors. He lowered his head and his eyes looked directly at the tile floor as he walked slowly toward the far back pew, away from the rest of the congregation.
The preacher immediately ceased talking and slowly lowered his arms, which he had been flinging about during the course of the sermon. He shifted his eyes toward the young man, who accidentally slid the heavy, wooden church bench, while trying to sit down.
The deacons and choirmaster began to whisper among themselves as several other members of the church turned around to look at the unshaven figure. I noticed that when he walked into the church, he was very thin and dirty, and that he was not wearing any shoes. He looked awfully hungry.
He constantly smiled at the little children from the orphanage when we would turn around to look at him. The matron reached over and slapped me on the leg, because I dropped the nickel onto the wooden bench. It was the coin that the orphanage gave me to put into the collection plate. So I did not turn around and look at him anymore. I always liked the money collection part of the church service best, because I knew that it was almost over and we would get to go home soon.
The preacher talked on and on about how people should dress up for church, and that they should cut their hair and be clean before coming to services. I knew that he was talking about the man in the back of the church. But the man just sat there. He smiled and never said a word. As ther sermon progressed, all at once he raised his hands toward the ceiling and loudly said, "Praise the Father in Heaven."
The older church people looked at him like he was crazy or something, but he sure did not look crazy to me. The preacher finally walked off the platform and whispered something in the deacon's ear. The deacon got up from his chair and walked down the side isle next to the colored glass windows. He asked the man to leave, because he was disrupting the church service. The young man looked up at the deacon and smiled. Without saying a word, he rose to his feet, turned and walked toward the doors leading out of the church.
As he reached them, he once again stopped, turned around and smiled at everyone. He reached over and picked up the entire stack of ‘The Upper Room’ pamphlets that sat on the table by the entrance. Turning them face down, he walked out the large wooden doors.
I will never forget the kindness I saw in that man's smile - a man with a very kind face, who was asked to leave the church that Sunday morning, because of the way he appeared. I do not think I ever saw him again after that. However, he sure looked an awful lot like the man who was in the shiny pictures in the middle of my Bible.