"There was a railroad running through the town, Grove City, where Fran [Edith's husband, Francis Shaeffer] was pastor after he graduated from Seminary. Often hobos or tramps--rather derelict-looking older men, unshaven and ragged of clothing, who traveled by riding on the bottom of freight cars, or hidden inside an empty one--came to our back door asking, "Cup of coffee, ma'am, and maybe some bread?"
"Wait a minute," I'd reply, "just sit down there, I'll fix you something." It was too dangerous to invite such a stranger in, alone with small children; but I would have been wrong to send him away. I would get out a tray, put the kettle on, and look in the fridge for some left-over soup. Into a small pan would go the soup, with the gas on under it. I would cut bread, enough for two big sandwiches (not too thin, he'll be hungry) and wonder what sort of a home he had had when he was a little boy--and wonder who he is, or whether maybe he is an angel in disguise!.... A diagonal cut through the first sandwich showed red tomato and green lettuce attractively displayed in the slash. The walnuts crunched as the knife went diagonally through the second sandwich. Alternating these four triangles on a lovely dinner plate came next, with pickle trim on one, and parsley on the other. Now for the steaming hot soup left over from our lunch. I would put a good bowl of this on the tray, and the children would help me fix a tiny bouquet of flowers nested in an ivy leaf.
"What'll he think of all that, Mummy?" Priscilla would ask with big, wondering eyes.
"Well, perhaps he'll remember something in his past--perhaps he had a very nice home once, where he had meals prepared for him. Anyway, he'll stop and think, and we'll give him this little Gospel of John to read while he is eating. He can take it away with him and, who knows, perhaps he'll do a lot of thinking, and some day, believe. Anyway, he may realize we care something about him as a person, and that's important."
Priscilla would hold the screen door open as I took it out, and watch his surprised face as he saw the tray.
"For me? Is this for me?"
"Yes, and the coffee will be ready in a minute, eat the soup first. This Gospel is for you, too. Take it with you. It really is very important."
All this for a tramp? Flower arrangements for a tramp on a rainy day? Why? Is it worth it? Is it just romantic? Does he even notice? If the Bible is true, this is the way to be doing something "unto Jesus", and at times perhaps to entertain an angel."
"What a waste of time!" some might remark. But the 'waste' is what brings forth the most amazing results, many of which are hidden from us in this life." (Taken from Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer)
This morning several missionaries taught different classes at our church. I went to a class entitled 'Compassion' and it was very thought provoking and also a blessing. It was a reminder to me to slow down and see other people around me and their needs. I learned that I need to focus especially on their need of a Saviour. Often I can be selfish and unwilling to be 'bothered'. However, Jesus himself performed miracles and helped others when he was tired and hungry. He did not care about his personal comfort. We should strive to see people through the eyes of Christ with compassion.
"Compassion : Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it."
The American Heritage College dictionary
" But when he (Jesus) saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because, they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." Matthew 9:36