Driving through Joplin, Missouri after the devastating EF5 multiple-vortex tornado of 2011 was a haunting experience. Entire blocks of houses and businesses were completely wiped out. The ground was flat with scattered twisted remains of what once was peoples’ possessions.
At least 159 people were suddenly flung into eternity.
The tomorrow they planned for never came for them. How horrifying for those who may not have been prepared.
The day we came through we saw that tremendous efforts had already been made to clean up and start to put things back together. There was hope in the air. Construction crews were everywhere. Still numbed by the sights we had seen, we moved onward to catch a bite to eat for lunch at one of our favorite places, Wendi’s. If you haven’t discovered it yet, you ought to try the Pick-Two menu. We were sitting enjoying our Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, and chocolate Frosty when we observed all the workmen in the place.
Directly across from us sat a contractor’s crew discussing their workload. Evidently the head man was frustrated and upset. There were problems with some workers. He was disturbed by price gouging by some companies.
In the midst of his complaints he cursed and used the Lord’s name in vain several times. I looked over at him with a facial expression that drew his attention and I simply said, “That is really rough Mister.” He thought I meant his problems and began directing his conversation to me. I said, “No, what I mean is the way you talked about my God. He is my Savior. He died for me so I could have salvation.”
Immediately he was apologetic, thanking me for stopping him, and calming him down. One by one his men left and he got up and came to our table and knelt down on one knee continuing to talk to us about insurance companies and banks and some contractors that were taking advantage of the crisis in Joplin, raising prices, and making financial decisions that were unfair to the tornado victims. He said some had tried to get him to raise his prices, but he refused, saying it was against his principle.
All the while he kept apologizing for his language, saying he knew that was not right, and that he was so sorry. It was an ideal moment prepared by the Lord and we stepped into it by faith.
Calling him by name we told him he should keep doing the right thing, regardless of what others do, because one day he would stand before God. The Bible says, So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God. No one will escape.
We asked him if we could pray for him, and he said “Yes.” He took his hat off and bowed his head And so, right there in Wendy’s, with a contractor kneeling at our table we laid our hand on his shoulder and prayed that the Lord would help him to do what is right, and that his heart would open up to receive Christ as his Savior. “Lord,” we earnestly prayed, “save him and let him live his life for you.”
Only the Lord knows what happened in that man’s heart at that moment, but we gave him Gospel literature as he left still sincerely thanking us for talking and praying with him. Save him, Lord! Follow him wherever he goes, and remind him of his need of salvation.