Many times in the past I had invited
him to come. Several other Christian friends
had talked to him about the Lord and had tried
to share the good news with him.
He was a well-respected, honest man with so
many characteristics a Christian should have,
but he had never put on Christ, nor entered
the doors of the church.
"Have you ever been to a church service in
your life?" I had asked him a few years ago.
We had just finished a pleasant day of
visiting and talking.
He hesitated. Then with a bitter smile he told
me of his childhood experience some fifty
years ago. He was one of many children in a
large impoverished family. His parents had
struggled to provide food, with little left
for housing and clothing. When he was about
ten, some neighbors invited him to worship
The Sunday School class had been very
exciting! He had never heard such songs and
He had never heard anyone read from the Bible!
After class was over, the teacher took him
aside and said, "Son, please don't come again
dressed as you are now. We want to look our
best when we come into God's house."
He stood in his ragged, unpatched overalls.
Then looking at his dirty bare feet, he
answered softly, "No, ma'am, I won't ever."
"And I never did," he said, abruptly ending
There must have been other factors to have
hardened him so, but this experience formed a
significant part of the bitterness in his
I'm sure that Sunday School teacher meant
well. But did she really understand the love
of Christ? Had she studied and accepted the
teachings found in the second chapter of
What if she had put her arms around the dirty,
ragged little boy and said, "Son, I am so glad
you are here, and I hope you will come every
chance you get to hear more about Jesus."
I reflected on the awesome responsibility a
teacher or pastor or a parent has to welcome
little ones in His name. How far reaching her
I prayed that I might be ever open to the
tenderness of a child's heart, and that I
might never fail to see beyond the appearance
and behavior of a child to the eternal
Yes, I saw him in the church house for the
first time on Wednesday. As I looked at that
immaculately dressed old gentleman lying in
his casket, I thought of the little boy of
long ago. I could almost hear him say, "No,
ma'am, I won't ever."
And I wept.