LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE Andy Hollifield 10-27-17
Hebrews 13:1-3 Let brotherly love continue. (2) Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (3) Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Brotherly Love. Now there’s an outdated concept for you. Almost as outdated as the golden rule. Isn’t the golden rule; “do unto others before they do unto you?” Oh no, wait a minute; that’s not it but that is what it has become. “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.” Why is that such a difficult concept for us to comprehend? Can you imagine if we all lived our lives by that one rule how much better our world would be? If we all followed that rule, rather than a dog eat dog world, we would have a place we would all enjoy living. I have heard the stories of how folks used to get in a neighbor’s crop when he had gotten sick or injured and couldn’t do it himself. But, that same neighbor was always among the first to show up with milk when someone’s cow went dry or with wood when their barn had burned down. To them back then, it wasn’t a big deal it was just how they lived. A neighbor, by definition, is a person that shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow human beings. You don’t have to have money to be a neighbor you just have to have brotherly love.
I am glad to report to you that “brotherly love” is not as outdated as you might think. The problem is that it seems to take tragedy to ignite it in our spirit once again. Some of you may wish I would quit writing about the hurricane areas I have visited recently but I am a firm believer that God has a purpose in all things and there is something to be learned from every event or circumstance in your life. It isn’t enough to learn but you must put what you have learned into practice or it is of no value to you. I don’t intend in any way for this to be an article trying to preach to anyone. I only hope that when you are finished reading that you will feel a little better about your fellow-man and have a bit more compassion. We have seen TV commercials about brotherly love but now it is called “random acts of kindness.” I hope that these few stories I am about to tell will help you see a little more good in the world than you saw yesterday.
Back in 2002, on a Sunday morning, a flash flood struck the state of West Virginia. Operation Outreach, which was a ministry of my dad’s Sunday School class at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Weaverville, had some pretty good connections to acquire food so my dad and I decided to take a load up there. After contacting Director Bill Bradley at Hearts With Hands in Asheville, dad took his suggestion and we went to the town of Mullins, WV. The town was located just below a bend of the adjacent river. As a matter of fact, you had to cross a bridge to even get to the town. The rains came so fast and furious that once the river jumped out of its banks and began to flood Main Street, it literally ripped the asphalt from the road bed. We are talking about 6 inches of road being ripped up and floating down the street. As the morning progressed, things only got worse. The Pentecostal church there on Main Street was in the direct path of the flood. I found out from talking to the pastor that he had driven his car to church but left church in a boat. By the time church was over, the church basement had already flooded to the top of the stairs inside the church. Rather than walking down the four or five steps from the porch of the church, the pastor simply stepped into the boat. The water was that high that fast. I just wanted to set the stage so you could realize the severity of the situation.
We were up there the following Saturday with my dad’s Isuzu truck with a 14 foot box on it full of food and other supplies. The only place we had been able to make contact with that was doing any kind of distribution in the area was this Pentecostal church. I have heard some say that they would only work with those of like faith. Hogwash! I am glad Jesus didn’t have that way of thinking when he came to this earth. There was no one at first that was of “like faith” to him. Besides that, we’re going to be in heaven with some Pentecostal folks and also; they were the only ones doing anything to help others. The way I figure it; Pentecostals probably get just as hungry as Baptists when they go without food. Anyway, while we were unloading, I heard the pastor tell someone who had come for assistance that we had brought water so they could have all they needed. We were quite surprised when the man refused and only took a couple of gallons because he said someone else might need some. I also heard another man take only one pack of paper towels instead of the whole case for the same reason. Both of those men could have used more than what they got but they were keeping with the teaching of Paul to the Romans in chapter 12 and verse 10. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
Ten years earlier in Homestead, Florida I had witnessed a similar circumstance. I had driven a van load of volunteers down there to work the food tent for Hearts With Hands. We had closed up around eight o’clock one night and a deputy sheriff came by about twenty minutes later. He said since we were closed he would try to get by the next day. We finally got him to come on in and all he needed was 2 gallons of water; enough to drink and also take sponge baths with. Although he was offered food or anything else he needed, he refused. He said he was working 16 hour shifts so he wasn’t home enough to eat anything and someone else might need it. That stuck with me and I have thought of that deputy every time a storm comes and help is required.
Another similar situation took place in Ocean Springs, MS following Hurricane Katrina. On the Sunday afternoon following the storm, I was sitting in my truck preparing to head back home after delivering my load. As I sat there I noticed several women coming together from an apartment project across the road. They were heading straight for one of the HWH workers. I kept a close eye on them because he was out there by himself trying to sort several trailer loads of stuff right after he had arrived. To be honest, I figured they were just coming to help themselves to whatever was out there. You can only imagine what a dog I felt like when that group of women stopped and asked Jeff what they could do to help him. In about 2 or 3 hours they had all of that stuff separated. They had received food and whatever they needed earlier and they said they just wanted to give back.
In Texas last week, I saw the same type of brotherly love demonstrated again. I met an oil field worker that worked the field during the day and came over to the distribution center in the evening with his wife to volunteer. I also met Rhonda who drove from nearly all the way across the state in her minivan which she had equipped to sleep in, just because she felt like she needed to help. Then there is Loan. A petite, intelligent, young woman from Houston that is there to do whatever she can for whoever she can. There was also a veteran that calls himself the “Bacon Master”. He is from Houston which is a few hours north. He came with a group of other veterans called Grunt Rescue which came from as far away as Oregon. Upon arrival, Dennis, who is the leader of the group, told the mayor that they were going to be there for three months and would handle donations and distribution and even help with construction. They also told her to just take care of her town and not to worry about a thing. Those are just some of the folks that I met or have talked to.
I also experienced gratitude that you don’t always find in the mission work I am involved in. Even with all of the loss that those people have suffered, they still took the time to be nice, or should I say “kindly affectioned” to other folks. From the school administration in Tivoli, to the mayors of Refugio and Woodsboro and the fire dept of Refugio that was instrumental in making my trip possible, I have seen brotherly love even toward complete strangers like me. In my case they haven’t “entertained an angel” but they sure do know how to treat folks like a neighbor. So, from Tom Jaggard with Aransas County ISD to Leanna Wilson with the Rockport home school group and all the folks at Tivoli and Woodsboro schools, thanks for rising up in spite of your circumstances and adversity and “letting brotherly love continue”. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!