This morning while sitting in church, waiting for everything to get started, I began leafing through the front part of my Bible. The presentation page reminded me that I received this Bible on April 7, 1995. The next page was the “Certificate of Marriage” – August 23, 1986. Then I turned to the record of births – Kyle in September 1994 and Quinten in September 1995.
Finally I came to the record of deaths – one entry: my mother, May 18, 2003.
I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. As I was quietly mourning her loss, I began to recall one of my parents’ many visits to Denver. It was the summer of 1998. Mom and Dad had come to Denver to help run the summer program. Mom cooked and watched the grandkids while Dad helped with the DOOR groups.
One weekend, I decided to take the summer staff up to the mountains for some rest and relaxation. My parents decided not to go. Mom’s health was already starting to fail and a day in the mountains was more than she wanted to deal with. Rita, the boys and I met up with the DOOR staff early Saturday morning and headed for the mountains. I remember it being a very hot July day in Denver, so escaping to the mountains was wonderful.
On the way back to Denver, my cell phone started ringing – my dad was calling from the hospital. My mother was diabetic and during the day her blood sugar level had dropped so low that she had passed out. The doctors were doing everything they could to revive her. As you might imagine, I made it to the hospital in record time. By the time I arrived, Mom was out of danger, sitting up and talking with the nurse.
Why am I sharing this story? This is the event that changed how I view my neighbors. A few years earlier, our family had moved from the suburbs into an urban neighborhood called Five-points. Our reasons for doing this were many and varied, but one purpose that regularly surfaced was to do ministry in this particular part of Denver.
Up until this point, I had been so busy running DOOR that I had not taken the time to get to know my neighbors. I could say, “Hi,” and I knew their names – but that was about the extent of it.
On that Saturday when my mother passed out – my dad entered a state of panic. He didn’t know what to do, who to call or where to go. My neighbor to the south was relaxing in his front yard – in 1998 he did not speak much English. In the midst of my father’s panic, he came out the front door and managed to communicate to my neighbor that something was terribly wrong. Within five minutes my neighbor carried my mother to my dad’s car and proceed to lead them to the hospital. At the hospital, he alerted the staff that there was a dying woman in the car, found a wheelchair and rushed her into the emergency room.
My neighbor saved my mother’s life – he gave her another five years. It was a gift that I could never pay back.
One more thing – his name is Jesus.