An 8-year-old girl helped unshackle Rev. Daniel Humbert from his selfish thinking:
I discovered last year that our Sr. High youth would be participating in the
Appalachia Service Project (ASP), I was tremendously excited!
I was excited on the one hand because it
would allow them to emulate the values of our church—radical love, servant
ministry and Biblical relevance. I was
also excited because I knew they were about to have the same kind of
transformational experience that I personally have encountered in my 13 times
of participating in ASP.
life was literally unshackled from my own bologna through the radical love of
Christ I experienced at ASP. It must
have been 1988. It was my second time to
participate in ASP. We went to Grundy,
VA. The family, whose home we were
attempting to make warmer, safer and drier, had a daughter named Kathy. She was about 8 years old at the time. Their home, which was about 1200 sq. ft, was
constructed of raw, untreated lumber, and had no running water.
Kathy was very
shy and took several days to warm up to the strangers from Dallas who had come
to help her family. Each
day our team would travel to Kathy’s home to be in relationship with her family
and to help renovate her home. We always
tried to play and visit with her so that she would know we weren’t just strange
workers, but rather people who loved and cared for her.
Monday and Tuesday went by with Kathy having
no desire to play with us. On Wednesday
she finally warmed up to us enough to “investigate” us a little. Finally, on Thursday she not only played with
us, but she had lunch with us. Major
victory! No longer strangers, but
lunch that we ate each day on-site was made earlier in the day by one of our
team members. The only real choice for
lunch was a sandwich. It was either
PB&J or bologna and cheese. The remainder
of the meal would consist of an apple, chips and water. Being the man that I was, I always wanted
bologna and cheese for my sandwich. I
had it every day that week.
the day that Kathy chose to eat with us, I became unshackled!
As we sat down to eat lunch I did a stupid
thing…a very selfish thing. I had the
audacity to complain about my bologna and cheese sandwich. I was tired of eating the same thing every
day! I said it out loud. I said it in front of Kathy, who I personally
knew not only didn’t get to eat every day but what little she did get to eat
was the same thing. I saw it. She had beans and cornbread—when it was
available—morning or noon or night.
Nothing but beans and cornbread. That’s all her family had. When
they had it.
here I was complaining about having a bologna and cheese sandwich a few days in
a row. I didn’t even know I needed
unshackling until Kathy set me free. As
we were sitting there together and I made my selfish cry heard, sweet little Kathy
looked up at me and said, “Would you like my beans?”
She didn’t hesitate. She didn’t ask for a trade. She didn’t want anything. She just wanted to unshackle me from my
bologna. She wanted to share. She wanted to love. She wanted to serve. She did it all, and she was 8 years old.
an instant I was both humbled and loved. Little Kathy had set me free. She
had unshackled me from selfishness and pride, from sinful shame and obtuse
A poor little girl from
the backwoods had graciously “schooled” me in the grace and mercy and love of
needed that unshackling. I needed to
discover that “[Christ] must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
I needed to be set free from my sin and the
deadly journey on which I was traveling.
was a simple lesson. A needed
lesson. But then, so is Easter! There is an unshackling…from sin and death
for life and love. Jesus was raised to
new life so that you and I might have the same.
There are second chances. We can
be set free. We can become unshackled
from hate, bigotry, selfishness, violence, bitterness, sin, shame, death.
was full of bologna. I sometimes still
am. Thank God someone saved me. Thank God Jesus still unshackles us today. He is risen!