Steve Martin said this line in Leap of Faith “A town this deep in the crapper’s got nowhere to turn but God!” I knew a preacher who would listen, talk and give advice but not in a way that was obtrusive. We would sit and talk about things like God’s plan which I said was a load of garbage. He would just sit there, listening and ask why I thought that.
We’ve all been in the “crapper” one time or another and that makes us stronger, able to face the challenges that were thrown in front of you. The Preacher told me one day that God wouldn’t give me anymore than I could handle. I asked him to relay to God that maybe someone else needed his attention more than myself.
When as my mother put it the Catholics were “playing golf”, the preacher had an open door policy. When I needed to keep my hands busy, he had a fleet of buses that needed to be service on a daily basis. He referred his church as a hospital because everyone that comes in is sick in one way or another. He wasn’t pushy and when he preached on Sundays and Wednesday’s, his message was on point without all the fluff others would put into a talk.
The Preacher grew his church from a modest couple of hundred to over a thousand while building a school for the children. I had the pleasure of being there when they “capped off” the gym. The last piece of steel went up and the building continued. Preacher had a place for everyone that needed it and never looked down on anyone. The Catholics would say he was a shepherd tending his flock but he was much more than that.
Every Sunday morning his fleet of buses went throughout the city offering a place where people could meet and maybe walk away with something that could get them through the week. The buses were used during the week from time to time fir field trips for the school kids and when they were out playing, everyone kept an eye on them.
During that time, I was embroiled in legal problems concerning my daughter and I had to travel six hours or so for court. Seeing that my car wasn’t up to the task he offered me a car that a parishioner left at the garage with a blown motor. His challenge to me was, fix the car and it was mine. Right after that challenge, another parishioner was in an accident where the rear end of their car was so badly damaged, it was totaled. Before it was towed away, a couple of people in the garage and myself figured we could get the engine out of the car and put it into the car the preacher said I could have once I got it running.
Within a few days, the car was going down the parking lot over to an electrical shop because we couldn’t figure out why the alternator wasn’t working. It turned out that we swapped wires and it was fixed in a matter of a couple minutes. The Preacher looked at me as he handed me the title saying “positive thinking, faith in yourself and the Lord, being who you are will get you through any storm in front of you.” He told me that he’d seen me out there working on things and even though he didn’t approve of my smoking, he was happy that I didn’t do it around the children.
Ultimately, the Preacher growing older in years left the church he built for his son to shepherd. I haven’t been back in many years but I heard it was thriving just as the Preacher had hoped. The love of his life passed away but the Preacher knew that her place was cemented in heaven and soon they would be together again. The Preacher died last week after waging war with the challenges he faced with health problems.
I have no idea of how many people he helped through their storms but I know that he is where he told us we would be if we believe. Today, there is one last thank you to Pastor Hobbins I need to convey. Life has been difficult but my willingness to look into the storms that come my way have made me more resultant and stronger. Do I still doubt God? I ask him to take into consideration the beliefs of my late wife when judging me. My love for her is unquestioned by anyone who knew us. As for the Preacher, I hope he finds her and they have a conversation or two just like we did. Godspeed Preacher and thanks.