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Oct/Nov 2006







why did you come back?

by Jerry Gibbs

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IT WAS A THURSDAY like many other Thursdays. I went to the bakery for bread, like I often do. As I approached the bakery, I saw a man begging near the door. Nothing unusual in that. Many unemployed come to the end of their government aid and resort to begging. Some people beg to maintain a drug or alcohol dependency.

As I entered the bakery, I thought, “He’s begging for money and will probably spend it in a bar.” I completed my purchase and left the store. As I exited, I glanced at the young man and realized he was about the same age as my boys. “I’ll give him a Euro or two ($1-$2),” I thought repentantly. But as I searched my pockets, I found I had not one cent left. No money at all! “Too bad,” I shrugged and climbed in my car.


Moved by the Spirit

Driving away, I again thought about the young man’s similarity in age to my boys. What if my son was begging somewhere? I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me, “He’s someone’s son!” Tears started. I was on my way to my son Marc’s house. After I regained my composure, I went in and asked Marc to loan me some change. He only had a few cents handy. I went to the ATM, withdrew some cash, and bought a paper so I’d have change. I didn’t want to give him too much, after all!

I returned to the bakery, got out of the car, and approached the man. Throughout the short trip, my mind was full of thoughts like, “I hope no one sees me giving this guy money. They’ll think I’m supporting his bad habit.” Or, “Don’t be nuts. He’s going to spend his money on booze.” But each excuse seemed to evoke the Holy Spirit to prompt, “It isn’t your problem what others think, or what he does with the money. I want you to obey Me.”

I didn’t like His directness, and arrived at the bakery almost hoping the guy would be gone. But he still stood by the bakery door. I climbed from my car and placed money in his hand, saying, “This is a small gift from a God who loves you.” He looked like he’d seen an alien or something. His eyes followed me all the way to the car and, just before I got in, he called, “Hey, have a good day and thanks!”

I felt really good—for a second. Then the Holy Spirit prompted again, “Do more!” I looked for a tract, Bible, New Testament, something to give to this guy. To my shame, I had nothing in my car to give him. I sped home and told Barb what was going on. She helped me find some tracts and prepared a bag of food. Off I went to the bakery for the third time. This time, the young man was gone.

I thought, “Lord, this ain’t funny anymore. If You’re leading me, help me find this guy.” I drove around the neighborhood for 10 minutes looking for him. He had disappeared. Gone. I was even more heartbroken for this young man about whom I knew nothing.

Despondently, I started home by a route I rarely take. He was walking beside the road. I thanked the Lord and pulled my car up beside the man, trying not to cry. After all, I had already shocked him with the talk about God; I didn’t want him to take off running when he saw me. I lowered my window and handed him the bag of food, a New Testament, and a tract that included the church address.

“Why did you come back?” he asked. I lost it. He apologized if he’d made me cry. I told him, “I came back because I have a God who loved me when I was not worthy of His love. He still loves me, and I want to share His love with you.” He asked for my hours at the church and said he would come by one day to see me. I told him I would be glad to offer him a cup of coffee when he came by. I left with tears still fresh in my eyes, but I knew I had obeyed the Lord.


The Rest of the Story

Later that afternoon I picked up Michel, a church member who does visitation with me. I said, “Michel, I went to the bakery this morning and saw this young guy begging…” He stopped me and said, “I saw him too! In fact, I went to your bakery, where I never go, and saw this guy begging. I thought, ‘Here is another guy begging for drug or alcohol money.’ Then, as I waited in line to buy my bread, my heart started to race, and the Holy Spirit tore in to me. I decided to keep the three Euros I was gong to spend on bread, pay with a bill, and give the change to the young man. I did just that, got in my car, and the Holy Spirit tore in to me again.” He concluded sadly, “But I did not obey.” As I told him what had happened to me he, too, had tears in his eyes as he said, “I am so glad you obeyed, even if I did not.”

I have no idea what, if anything, will become of this. But that is not my concern. As the Holy Spirit reminded me, “I want you to obey Me, that’s all.”


About the Writer: Jerry and Barbara Gibbs have shared the Bread of Life with the French for over two decades. They have three sons: Marc (and Donna), Joel (and Cecile), and Ryan.




©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists