Cliff Shares His Faith
Tornado that touched down in Franklin NC
He Was Not Christian Man
Call it writers block or something else I haven't written many hubs here of late. One can only write so many short stories from our memories before the bucket runs dry and and we realize that the things we write are mundane, trivial, and of little interest to the general public. There are however times when inspiration comes like a bolt of lightning and noble thoughts can be shared.
This is a story about Cliff, a man who is severely handicapped. I met Cliff about 10 years ago when my wife and I worked at Camp Tekoa, a United Methodist Camp near Hendersonville, NC, during a Special needs camp session where approximately 90 special folks spend a week enjoying the camp facilities and activities. On that particular evening Cliff was busy making the camp fire so others could enjoy Smores and a movie. Cliff like the others who attend Barnabas week are adults but with varying degrees of mental development. Cliff lives independently and can function very much as adult without supervision or personal care.
This year my son and I and our little band, Gary Ballard and The Cabin Creek Revue, were invited to play music for opening night on Special Needs Camp which has become known as Barnabas week. The evening was a tremendous blessing and the 90 campers sang, danced, and had lots of fun and fellowship.
When we arrived carrying our instruments and setting up the microphones, I spotted Cliff coming towards me. As he came up I spoke and the following is a brief excerpt from what he had to share on that Sunday evening. Cliff had become a Disaster Responder which is amazing considering his limitations. He had undergone all the necessary training through the American Red Cross and certified as qualified to render assistance to areas stricken by hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. I cannot write this just as he shared it because I cannot express in words the difficulties he has with speech nor can I capture the fullness of his emotion and love in his heart.
"Guess what! I have been over to Franklin to help the tornado victims and a man whose home and property were damaged when the tornado set down. This man was not a Christian man. We worked three days (holding up 3 fingers) cutting and stacking wood from the trees that were blown down. The man wanted to use the wood for fuel so we stacked it all up. He has wood supply that will last for several years now!
I congratulated Cliff and thanked him for all his hard work, for being a volunteer and most importantly, for his sharing his faith with the man who had suffered the loss. He shrugged his shoulders and quickly added,"We shared Jesus with that man and he accepted Him in his heart!"
The story Cliff shared meant so much to me. The story, old but ever new, is one of eternal hope and affirmation. Lives are often touched by those who seem small in this worlds estimation but a child like faith is all that is required when it come to the spiritual truths. As we played music that Sunday evening, those whose mental age is that of a child, in this mans opinion, is a reflection of what Heaven will be like. Laughter, unconditional love and a willingness to share it with others.
King James Version (KJV)
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
The next commentary is that written by Robbie Gilbert who plays stand up bass in our little band. I think he captures in his words what we all felt on that Sunday evening.
"I just got back from Camp Tekoa where we played for the mentally handicapped people and it was truly a blessing and a life message that I must share. These people are the blessed ones because they do not care what kind of guitar you are playing or how much it cost. They did not care if you missed a note or forgot your place. They did not care if it was Bluegrass, Country, Gospel or Bach because they danced and clapped their hands anyway! The did not care if we were Nashville recording artist or a Bluegrass band from Green River! They did not care if we were white, black or green because they wanted to shake our hands or hug us! They waved their hands at us, as if they had always known us! They did not care if we spoke with a brogue, stuttered or had a Yankee accent! Some might say oh, poor folk and would not want to be like them but, as someone said and I think it was Gary's Mom; surely this must be how it is in Heaven! Oh, I agree! Oh, to be like these people who don't waller in selfishness and evil thoughts as we so-called people in our right minds! I have relatives that will not wave or speak in passing! I have relatives that will introduce my sister to other people as a girl that rode their school bus! I have relatives that envy if others get something new! Again to be like the people that we played for tonight!"
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