In his South Korean accent, he complained of his divorce. TK stood behind the counter of the lone convenience store, open late to collect the after hour bar flies. We were interrupted periodically with customers buying a gallon of gas, beer, cigarettes, and convenience store delicacies: chips and pop; purchased with food stamps.
I live about a half an hour from this lonely town, displayed on a dead end road.
He fretted over employee’s drug use and stealing. Not only does he contend with customers shop lifting but also his employees. This combined with a complicated divorce, and a business to split, has stressed him to suicidal contemplations.
I asked him for an application for a friend I’m helping. My friend has a sex offense, a felony voyeurism charge, making it hard to get a job. He is dealing with satisfying the state with counseling, polygraphs, and probation office visits.
As we spoke, the children of this drug ridden rural outpost entered the store and bought goodies. A boy entered from the darkness. He was about twelve. This distracted me from my conversation. He stood out to me. His emaciated frame was draped in stained shorts and a waded t-shirt, dirty from many days wear. He had no socks just begrimed pegs stuffed into broken shoes. Ding-Dongs were his drug of choice this evening. From head to toe he was filthy, not just filthy but stained like an old car left to rot in a farmers field. Some would think of calling child protective services, a pretty stupid response I think! I always wonder why that is the first reaction of so many. Why isn’t the first thought to help?
I thought, “I need to do something for these kids.” I asked TK, the un-elected mayor of this town of perdition “What is going on to help these kids.” “Nothing!” TK remorsed. “They hang out at my store day and night.” “As long as they don’t steal, I don’t have a problem with them!” I wondered, “Are the four churches in town blinded by the normalcy of this environment?”
The next day I went back. I spoke to him of the boy I saw. He couldn’t remember the kid. He doesn’t see the dirt and despair either. He is accustomed to it. He carries no cross, just the burden of his own life. These are his customers; drugs, grime and ignorance. All that matters is they pay and don’t steal.
I suggested to him I would like to do something for these kids. He promptly replied “They are here all day long.” “If you want to use my property at the store to do something, you can!” I was surprised!
He jolted in contrite apology for his lack of giving, which evaporated with the drought of the economy. Maybe he thought I wanted money?
I think we will put up a tent with a wood floor there by the store with things in the tent to entertain and serve these kids. We will have food, socks and underwear. I think some food would be good.
I was thinking I could work a shift a week for TK, to give him one day off a week. He hasn’t had a day off in over five years. He won’t need to pay me.
I will let you know how it goes.
But before I finish, I think a commentary is needed, not about me but sight. Do we see? Can we see what is around us; the need? Does the need prompt us? Do we long for someone to act or be moved by the Spirit? Is it enough to feel bad or pray?
All-in-all, we know!
It will cost us. We know all that counts is action prompted by compassion. That is who Jesus is.
If you ever wondered why we are in the state we are in our culture, I have a simple answer “Too few are carrying the cross of Christ.” No wonder they do not believe; they have never seen the Savior!