We met just over four years ago now. He was the local fire chief in Harvest. Good guy. Family guy. Community guy. The kind of guy that makes a lot of sacrifices for a lot of people. He loves our community and God has given him a skill set that allows him to serve in ways that most of us can’t. There are people alive today that wouldn’t be had it not been for him. That is really hard for me to fathom. He’s a hero. A real-life hero. He didn’t save my life, but he sure was a part of changing it…
The first time I met him, I shared with him and his crew the story of hungry kids in one of the schools in our community. I could tell he had a soft spot in his heart for those children. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was “preaching to the choir,” as people say in the south. He had seen it first hand. Matter of fact, that first night we met, he shared stories with me. Most notably, a story about a house they went into running a medical call to see multiple children, a grandparent, and a can of corn in the pantry...only a can of corn in the pantry.
That first night we met, he had something that I desired. A 4,000 square foot building in the most recognized part of the Harvest community. And it was for sale. My wife and I were running a food delivery operation out of Sparkman Middle School at the time. We were maxed out. I was taking days off work sometimes to deliver food boxes. I knew that building could be the ticket to us being able to multiply what we were doing. Problem is...most teachers don’t have the $200,000 asking price lying around.
The fire chief was overseeing the construction of their new fire station. And honestly...they needed that $200,000. They are a small volunteer organization. Thank God for putting it on the hearts of people to do one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable...as a volunteer. That first night we met, I could see his heart being tugged. He even came back with a very generous offer to sell that building at less than half the listed price. But it was a meeting just a few months later that changed my life. In the middle of discussions toward a temporary rental agreement of some kind, he asked if his group could step outside and talk. When they returned, they offered us all 4,000 square feet of that $200,000 building for one dollar. One dollar. And that was the beginning of House of the Harvest.
Fast forward to today. A lot has happened in two years. This morning he walked across our parking lot toward a building he knows better than its’ current owner does. I walk over to greet him and we catch up. Two guys brought together by something only God could do. The best things in life are way bigger than ourselves. We catch up for a minute and I ask him, “What in the world brings you here this morning?” He just ran a call...a small three year old. Asthma. A fatal attack. Led to cardiac arrest. They were just in time...resuscitated the young boy. Praise God!
They found out there were five children living in the house. All being raised by a gracious man in his sixties. None of the children are his, but he is the one who stepped up for them. He is God’s act of mercy in their life. And now...he has a little help. Fire chief showed up this morning to deliver them some food. Another act of mercy. God has a way of making the right guy pick up the phone. I have seen it more times than I can count.
By the way, after delivering the food, he came back to tell me how much joy it brought the kids to unload it all. I imagine God was smiling while watching those little children run back and forth to the vehicle that read Harvest Volunteer Fire Department as they unloaded all those groceries. An act of love, humility, and selflessness. Community. So glad I got to be a part. I love my job!
Thanks, Chief. You impacted my life...again. Is there anything better than watching God work through people?
“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” James 3:13