He said he was a carpenter. He was on his way from Iowa to Florida to look for work because he had heard there was a construction boom going on in some areas following summer storms.
His bicycle held all he owned: a tattered bedroll, a couple of dented cooking utensils, a thermos ? which he?d found along the way ? an empty soft drink bottle he was using to hold water, a few clothes and some tools to work on the bike, which had definitely seen better days.
In his mid-60s, he said he had been on the road for about six weeks. He had ridden some 30 or so miles that day in the 100-plus Texas heat from a nearby town where he?d spent the previous night in the public park there. The hot asphalt had pretty well taken its toll on both man and bike.
He stopped outside the Boy Scout building behind the First United Methodist Church looking for some assistance. One of the Scout leaders spotted him at the door.
“I?m looking for someone over at the church,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at the building behind him.
“I?ve got a problem with my bicycle, and I don?t know if I should ride it any farther tonight.”
The Scout leader explained that everyone at the church had already gone home for the day, but offered to call the pastor for assistance.
“Have you had supper yet?” he was asked.
“Well, I bought a peach earlier at that supermarket across the street,” he said.
The man was invited to come inside and join in the meal the Boy Scouts had prepared that evening to show off their cooking skills for their parents.
While the visitor filled his plate, one Scout leader began making telephone calls to locate assistance while others went outside to inspect the bicycle. Sure enough, a large bulge had ballooned on one of the back tires.
One of the parents volunteered to check out a nearby store for a suitable replacement. Unfortunately, he soon returned to report no success in the mission. Meanwhile, the church pastor had been located, who offered to pay for a motel room for the bicyclist to spend the night.
The rider thanked the group but asked if it were possible to simply camp out on the church?s large playground area instead.
“That way I can keep an eye on my stuff,” he said.
Permission was given, and the stranger was supplied with a large jug of cold water and ice, some soft drinks and some left over food from the evening meal. Some of the Scouts and parents chipped in for a monetary donation as well.
“Don?t worry about me. I?ll be fine,” the man said. “I appreciate your kindness, but I?m used to being outdoors. It?s just nice to have folks to talk with. It?s been kind of lonely on the road.”
A check the next morning found the traveler was already on his way. The pastor said he had managed to locate the right size bicycle tire in the neighboring town, and charged it to his own credit card. The rider thought he could make it that far and had already left to on his journey.
In discussing the incident later, Scout leaders and parents pondered their actions.
Most folks felt they had done a good deed, but some still couldn?t help but wonder if it had been enough.
Were they really Good Samaritans or only convenient ones? If any of them had seen the man on the side of the road, would any of them had stopped?
Should one of them have taken him to their own home and offered a hot shower and clean bed?
All agreed, that such an offer, while generous, was also risky.
It was regrettable, they mused, that many potential acts of kindness have become tempered because of so many random acts of violence which have become all too common these days.
“It makes it hard to be a Good Samaritan,” one said.
Only each could answer in his own heart whether enough had been done for the stranger that day. And if the same situation occurred again, only each could answer how he or she would handle it.
But all could not help but be reminded of the words: “When ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it also unto me.”
And ironically, that speaker was also a carpenter.
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