My! My! My! What a Wonderful Day!

As I approached, he got out of his compact car, walked toward me and gave me a great big hug. “I’ve been watching you walk since Danville and I just knew I had to stop and talk with you.” Danville was about a week ago and that translates into a good seventy miles of road behind me. During that time, not only did he spot me but he took note of Lucy and the RV. He had jotted down our web site, went home one night, and did his research. By the time I met Gates he knew more about me than I did!
His job takes him all over the county delivering medication to nursing home. After he left me, he put a call into his bride, Clelon. (Gates & Clelon…kinda sounds like a law firm, huh? No divorce court for these two though, they really love each other!) I met her a couple miles up the road, she came prepared with a cold water and two mini muffins for me! She’s one of these people who was born with a smile in her voice and a twinkle in her eye. She brightened my day just spending time with her.
A little farther up the road, I met a woman who greeted me with “Pick a number between one and sixteen.” “Eight” I replied. She reached it an accordion folder, counted eight pockets over and pulled out a personally selected tract and a picture of an eighteen year old boy. “Are you a Christian?” she asked. I looked at the cross handing around my neck and smiled wryly, “Yes, I am.”
The picture of the young boy she gave was her son Barry. He died twenty-five years ago, six months before he was going to graduate high school. She wants people to know how quickly life can change and how important it is to know Christ. Her only solace is that she will see him again in heaven.
The next person in my cornucopia of American treasures was Lynne. A lady with a quick wit, creative ideas and a charming smile but who has had a hard life. Abuse comes in all forms but the longest lasting, I believe, are verbal assaults executed in rage. She has managed to overcome adverse circumstances but then fell again. Now she is getting up off the canvas for another shot at the brass ring of her destiny. She knows the Lord and is thirsty for to be and do what is right in His eyes. I was intrigued by her openness and authenticity.
Have you ever walked in the forest and had the opportunity to see a family of deer. You are as stunned by them as they are by you. You both stand still looking at each other. They are beautiful and strong; yet fragile and easily frightened. I find people are very much the same. We do not see our own majesty. We don’t know our own strength and yet our fragile egos are so easily bruised and battered. We often become skittish around something or someone slightly different.
After we finished walking for the day, we headed to Wal-Mart for supplies. Lucy was looking for some deodorant and after shower body mist. Like a good husband, I commandeer the basket when we shop and she is free to roam the aisles. When Lucy is looking for personal items, I usually station myself a safe distance away so as not to encumber the shopping experience for Lucyah and the other ladies hovering about.
I was engrossed in people watching. I especially like to watch people who are watching Lucy. Looking up this one aisle I saw an attractive twenty-something woman helping Lucy reach some of the items that were conveniently located at the six foot level. She would bring down a bottle of mist, spray the air and her and Lucy would smell the air. They would then either make faces or they would make sounds “Aaaah” “Ooooh.” They were like a couple of teenagers whose mother has let them go to the mall alone, giggling and laughing. …and there I was without a camera!
Unbeknownst to me, Carmen’s fiancé, Haniel, was watching the same scene. We looked at them and then each other, started laughing and it was then that God started to build a lovely friendship that would blossom over the next week!
BUT…….our day wasn’t over. Around 9:00pm, Rebecca came by the RV to visit. I had met her mom on the road that day and mom had called her to be on the lookout for us and kind of, check us out. We invited her in and we visited for about two hours. Every life has a story and every story needs someone to hear it. Sometimes the best ministry is the “listening ministry.”
We went to bed that night with the delight of God in our hearts. He had blessed us with the presence of His children and each one, a jewel. We drifted off tired and happy.

Look Around Ministry

He knocked on our door late in the afternoon. His eyes struck me as sad, he was very thin and his teeth were in need of repair. I wondered why he stopped. For food? Money? Directions? Out of curiosity?

Now here’s my confession. Sometimes when I see a person I have a tendency to put them in a box. I think …He’s broke. She’s successful. That one needs help but that one over there, he’s got it together. God’s been working with me and I’m getting better than I used to be but I still jump to conclusions about people. I was about to get another lesson.

Chad didn’t want anything. He came to see if we needed a place to take a shower or do laundry. He offered us his home! As we talked with this very mild mannered loving man, he told us about his ministry. They (he and his mother) don’t have a website yet but they have that on their wish list.

They help stranded people get home. They go to bus stations and train stations and find people who missed their connection and help them in whatever way they can. Sometimes they provide people with a sandwich, snacks or a drink. Sometimes when a person lives two hours or so away, they drive them home instead of having them wait all night for their early morning connection.

He told us that the stations always have people who are down on their luck. He said, “we make sure everyone gets a Bible but they don’t need a sermon, they need practical help.” This man is a true missionary to America!

He reminded us of the opportunities to help that are all around us and yet so often…we miss them. He reminded us of how easy it is to love God…just love His children as best you can. No words needed…just a snack or a cold drink. All we need to do is…look around.

Learning Curve

July in Virginia…hot…humid and a perfect day for a nice cold slice of watermelon.

After church we stopped by the local Wal-Mart and Lucy thumped a few watermelons searching for just the right one. There it was….round….firm and melodious!

We made our way home, got out our carving knife…all the while savoring a juicy slice of summer. I cut the melon in half and…………………It Was YELLOW!


At first we thought we picked a rotten melon. We sniffed it and then took the plunge and bit into it….Delicious!

The moral of the story is…..you can’t judge a watermelon by its color!

It just goes to show there is something new to learn every day…..for instance

A watermelon is a …..vegetable!
Russians make beer out of watermelon.
The world record for watermelon seed-spitting is 66 feet, eleven inches and the world’s largest watermelon was grown right here in America….in Bixby, Oklahoma. It weighed in at 255 pounds!

They Can’t Hear What We Don’t Say

For nearly ten years now, I thought we had traveled across America doing Biblical presentations.

The other day Lucy informed me otherwise! “We don’t do presentations, Nick. We do first century testimonies.” “What’s the difference?” I asked.

A presentation, she explained, is just a re-enactment but a testimony is a statement based on personal experience or personal knowledge. “You don’t memorize your characters lines like an actor does, you remember the life you lived as them. When a person in the audience needs an encounter with Christ and sees Zacchaeus was accepted despite his lifestyle, they have hope. They realize that what God did for the tax collector, He can and will do for them.”

At first, I thought it was just a manner of semantics but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Lucy was right. Testimonies, given on the stage or on the street, fill people with hope. We all know God can do wondrous things, we’re not sure, however, He will do them for us. Testimonies, yours and mine, build the faith of others. Scripture (Romans 10:17) tells us that “faith comes by hearing.” No none can hear if we don’t share. We don’t have to be eloquent. We don’t need to be seminary trained…we just have to be willing.

Your life matters. Share what God has done in your life. Give someone hope.

Good Hearts

A Key. Some water. An interview and one very large cantaloupe! So what do they all have in common?

It’s amazing to me that Lucyah and I can enter a new town, walk a country road and meet friends that were strangers five minutes ago! When they woke up this morning, they didn’t know us and we didn’t know them and yet…something clicked in their hearts and ours. Before we leave each others company…we’re friends!

Before we left Mt. Airy, NC, the Barefoot Prophet gave us the key to his home. He said we were always welcome whether he was there or not! I hadn’t been walking in Virginia long when a young girl (around twelve or so) saw me on the road. She thought I looked hot and tired…she was right!…and she asked her mom if they could go get me a cold water. Five minutes later I was thanking my sweet benefactor.

Not too much later Richard Rogers, the News Director of WHEO (1270AM) in Patrick County, VA saw our RV parked at Wal-Mart and stopped to talk with Lucy. He wanted to do radio interview. We didn’t have cell phone access so she sent him up the road after me and said she would join us shortly. Richard played the interview several times the next day and asked people to call in or tell if they met us or saw us.

The next day, we met Daniel Louis from WHEO. Daniel oversees their webpage and while telling him how friendly and giving the American people are…Buddy knocked on our door. He just wanted to know if we’d like a cantaloupe. He said he bought two but he only needed one. He just didn’t know why he bought the other one until he heard the radio program and then saw our RV parked right across from where he was working!

All these people gave what they could….a key, some water, an interview and a very large cantaloupe. They all offered the hand of friendship and we took it. Being on the road we’ve discovered that the American people want to give and if you want to show them respect, you accept what they offer as thankfully as you can. Receiving with grace is a gift that you give back. It tells people, “I value you and I appreciate your thoughtfulness” and we do.

We so appreciate this country and its people.

Generating Friendships

Not too long ago we had to replace our generator. It was a costly repair but a necessary one as the heat index (a combination of air temperature and humidity) has been a real challenge. We need the generator to power our air conditioning for the six days each week we are not at a campground. Normally the oil is changed at every 150 hours of operation but the mechanic who installed our unit said to change the oil at the first 50 hour mark since we were breaking in a new unit.

My dad was a tool and die maker by trade and a perfectionist by personality. He was a good man and a loving father but when it came to mechanical things I just couldn’t seem to do very well to suit him. Even after all these years, I just dread mechanical “stuff”… even something as un-challenging as changing the oil. It’s always been easier to pay to have it done than have to fight my own lack of confidence and besides, I hate getting my hands messy.

I knew this day was coming. Sooner or later, you have to face the fear of whatever it is that is limiting you. I bought the oil and an oil pan, grabbed a rag and piece of plastic to lie on and slid underneath the generator. I couldn’t see a thing and so I had to get out from under and go get my glasses. “Oh, this isn’t starting well,” I thought. I got back into position, tools by my side when I noticed that the screws holding the cover over the oil plug were neither Flatheads or Phillips. They looked like five pointed stars. “What the heck is this?” I thought.

I could hear the evil one whispering once again, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” Then I heard another voice, “Need some help?” Instead of feeling grateful, I felt embarrassed. Here’s a guy who is going to think I’m an idiot because I can’t do a simple thing like change the oil. “Don’t think I have the right tool. These screws look like they need a star fitting,” I said, not peering out from underneath the beast. He walked away, came back, stooped down and handed me a star shaped metric thing. Don’t know if you would call it a wrench or a screwdriver but whatever it was….it fit!

Once I got the screws off the cover, I had to deal with nut that fastened the oil plug to the generator. I had a wrench to fit but the nut was in a recess and so I needed a rachet to give me the leverage to loosen the nut. My friend had that tool as well. As the oil drained in the pan, I slipped out from underneath and met my new friend …Jon Van Hall Sr. He gave me a big smile, extended his hand and said, “Just call me Barefoot.” I shook his hand, thanked him for his help, looked down and sure enough He wasn’t wearing any shoes! In fact, Barefoot hasn’t worn a pair of shoes since November 27, 1989! He literally stands on Acts 7:33.

We talked a bit about walking for Christ and then he said, “Would you like to see my walking staff?” No sooner had I said, “You bet” than did he hop into his van, smile, wave and said “I’ll be right back.” Lucy had been doing the laundry and so I helped her get things out of the dryer while we waited for our friend’s return. No sooner did we finish our duties than did Barefoot return dressed in a white robe, with a red stole about his neck adorned with medals from his service in Viet Nam and his staff in hand.

I noticed that there were marks along the side of the staff. He said he puts a notch in for every year he walks barefoot. Barefoot prayed with and for Lucyah and I and then he asked us to put our mark on his staff. He handed me a small penknife and as I carefully carved N + L into the wood, I could feel God etch Barefoot into our heart. We invited him to have breakfast with us but he said he had to go to work. Before he left, he insisted we keep the tools he had let us use.

We had finished breakfast and we sat silently sipping our coffee; both of us stunned by God’s goodness. I needed someone to hold my hand as I faced a childhood fear; someone who would not judge me nor do it for me but just help me. God had sent His Barefoot Prophet and we sat there feeling incredibly blessed but….

Our new friend wasn’t through with us yet. He walked into the restaurant with a gift covered in a cloth. It was a framed article about him and God’s call on his life. It appeared in the February 3, 1993 edition of the Mt Airy News. It will be the first thing we place on the wall of our home…when we get a home!

Moravian Falls to Ronda

We had an online introduction through our friend Pat in Kansas City…Kevin Basconi’s book is Dancing With Angels and he and his wife Kathy have encounters of the supernatural kind. Despite their many angelic sightings, they do not worship their heavenly visitors as many people do. They are very clear, they only worship Christ! They were kind enough to invite us to stay at their home in Moravian Falls as we were without air conditioning due to generator difficulties.

My first reaction when someone tells me they see angels on a regular basis is caution. My reasoning mind kicks in and I wonder, “Are these people for real or are they lost in space?” I believe that GOD gave us a brain to analyze things but there are also some things that are true even though they are beyond our understanding. I don’t have to understand everything to know it is true. I mean I have no idea how a microwave heats items so quickly yet I know it does and I benefit by using it.

Although I have not had some of the experiences that Kevin and Kathy have, I have no doubt they are sincere in the expression of those experiences. One thing I do know is that GOD is bigger than whatever I as an individual can imagine or experience! It turned out to be two very inspirational and educational days!

After we left their company, we walked one day and then drove about 50 miles to Camping World in Colfax to get our generator repaired. The cost of RV labor is about $100-$120 per hour and after factoring in the cost of repair versus the cost of a new generator, we decided to go for the new model and get a three year warranty. It took us three days in the waiting room for the part to arrive and be installed but now we have power for the AC and the laptops.

On our first day back on the road, Terri pulled over and talk to me for a bit. She has a genuine smile and a quick sense of humor. I liked her as soon as I met her. It was 6:30am when she invited me to lunch! We made a date to meet at the Town Hall building in Ronda at noon. We actually walked past Ronda and then drove back to catch up with Terri and her husband Mayor Victor Valera.

In addition to being the mayor, Victor works as a scientist doing cancer research. Their house burned down last year and they are still in the midst of reconstruction. They were in the home when it caught fire through an electrical malfunction. The smoke alarms weren’t activated because the fire actually started above the alarms. By the time the smoke got down to the alarms, the roof was gone! The good part was that they only lost stuff; not each other and not their animals!

Between Moravian Falls and Ronda was sandwiched LIFE as experienced by three different couples. Encounters with angels, mechanical failure and raging fire and yet in each circumstance these people chose to focus on the provision and protection of God. Never did we nor the other two couples speak of fear or lack but only how blessed we had been in the process. LIFE is a process and it happens to everyone; sometimes it’s rain and sometimes it’s a rainbow….always GOD is there…always.

Blacksburg, SC to Earl, NC

This past week has been more about people who blessed us than people we have blessed. Last Wednesday, we stopped to worship with the folks at Mt. Paran Baptist. Pastor Jay invited us to say a few words and after the service, a neighborly man by the name of Garnell took us over to his house to fill our tanks with well water. Sooo nice! Later we met Pastor Jay & Christine for a cup of coffee at a nearby truck stop. Everybody has a story and finding out how pastors become pastors is always an interesting tale.

Thursday morning, quicker than you can say “Blackberry cobbler,” we were in Earl, North Carolina. Now we didn’t expect much out of a town named Earl but….where we ever mistaken! We stopped at New Hope Baptist Church and a lady named Tamara stopped to check on us. We moved on but she called her pastor who wanted us to come back for a photo and a little conversation. She tracked me down later on the road and we made arrangements to meet Pastor Russ when our walking day was over.

Lucyah had parked at an Ingles supermarket and the manager and a cashier came out to investigate. She was able to share about our walk for Christ, praying for America and gave them each a Zacchaeus DVD. The cashier asked if I would come in so she could have a picture taken with me. Later on Zacchaeus interrupted her work day for a photo-op.

As I walked through town a bit, a man came out of his trailer and approached me on the side of the road. “I’m mentally ill,” he said. His hands were behind his back and there was fast moving traffic behind me. In less than five seconds, all kinds of scenarios came into my mind. What if he was holding a hammer? What if he pushed me into the traffic?I asked him why he thought he was mentally ill. “The doctors said so. I’m schizophrenic and bi-polar.” “Do you take any meds?” I asked. “No. I hear voices.” Do they tell you to do bad things?” “No. Not bad things.” Do you know Jesus?” “Yes, I do.” We continued to talk about the healing of the Lord and after a few minutes of mentioning the name of Jesus, my friend abruptly left.

Finally, our walking day ended and we returned to New Hope to meet the pastor and that’s when we met Kirsten. Her husband is a navy chief currently deployed. He’ll be home in late July and until then she has three energetic kids to handle. One of her hobbies is taking pictures so she got lassoed into being the photographer of the day. Pastor Russ and his youth pastor Travis were very gracious, open and curious. Sunday morning was a salute to the graduates …high school and college…so they invited us to present Zacchaeus to their congregation on Sunday night. Woo-Hoo! We always get a thrill when a pastor who never met us before steps out in faith and invites us in! God is always looking to bless a man like that!

Kirsten had been on the phone to her grandparents, the Crawfords, and so it wasn’t long before we were at their house for supper! They and their family have lived in these parts most of their lives. Despite a houseful of hungry relatives, Mrs. Crawford managed to save us a couple of slices of homemade strawberry pie…..soooo good! Just before it started getting dark, Mr. Crawford, got us hooked up with electricity for the night plus directions on how to get back on the road in the morning!

In the town of Shelby, there is a health ministry called Hallelujah Acres (www.hacres.com) and the first Saturday of every month they have a free seminar. They’re teaching people how “You don’t have to be sick” and a lot of what they have to say makes sense. Not only did we get an education but we also got a chance to eat some healthy foods like pizza (made with macadamia nut cheese, spinach & sun dried tomatoes) and homemade coconut ice cream (without the cream!) After we learned to eat “skinny” we headed back out to the Crawfords for lasagna and home made apple cobbler. The diet begins “tomorrow”

These are the people of America. They are not the exception; they are the rule. They are your neighbors who are waiting for you to step out and say “Hello.” They want to share their recipes and their lives with you. They want to get to know you but don’t know how.

You need to take the first step. When trying to connect with people we’ve never met before, you can simply ask a question. We use what we call the Indian technique…that’s right… we simply ask “How.” How long have you lived here? How did you learn to do that? How did you come up with that idea?

Try it….you’ll make new friends and …so will they!

Blessed Again!

Wal-Mart moved and didn’t tell our GPS!

We drove to Gaffney after walking on Saturday. We had told our friend Arnold of that we would come hear The Riverside Boys (Gospel Music …Southern Style…864-545-6734) on Sunday morning. We had overnight-ed at Wal-Mart so we only had to drive 11 miles in the morning and we gave ourselves forty-five minutes to get there so we felt confident that we’d make it in time for 9:15am Sunday School. The address of the “Save More; Live Better” giant listed in their Atlas was an old address and so our directions took us north instead of south. Grrrrr!

Now I hate being late. I really hate missing Sunday School because each Sunday is an opportunity to hear a teacher that we may never get a chance to learn from again. There’s great wisdom in many of these Sunday School classes. They haven’t written a book or been interviewed on Oprah but they know how to live the Word of God and I enjoy learning from them. So when we arrived at 9:30am, I was muttering! Then I noticed…no cars! The sign said Sunday School was set to begin at 10:00am. They forgot to update their web site…bless their hearts! My mumbling slowly turned to thanks as God told me one more time to rest in Him.

This morning was a special day. There would be Sunday School, worship service, a traditional potluck lunch and then our guys…The Riverside Boys! They sang about four or five songs and then took some of their “stage” time and asked us to come speak to the church. As they introduced us, they encouraged folks to contribute to our journey as they were able. We were stunned! These guys gave us some of their time and now some of “their money”…they don’t have an ounce of selfishness in them!

After the service we were approached by a woman from another church and we went on to speak at her church that evening. God allowed us to be blessed and be a blessing! How fortunate we are to work for our God!

Lockhart, SC: Population 617

He got a call from his daughter about a man on a mission so he made a sandwich, picked up two bottles of water, hopped in his pickup to hunt me down. Arnold Childers is a sweet, likeable man and it took us all of twenty seconds to strike up a friendship! I learned he was part of a group called The Riverside Boys (They don’t have a website but if you want to hear some good Gospel Music…Southern Style…call 864-545-6734). I asked if they would be singing anywhere while we were in the area and learned that they would be at El Bethel Baptist Church in Gaffney on Sunday. I said we’d try and make it, gave my friend a DVD of Zacchaeus and took a cold bottle of water to go. Arnold said he’d go home and get Lucy a couple Gospel music CD’s.

There was a truck stuck in the road ahead and a young couple drove by taking a picture of me with a cellphone.I only met them for a moment. They are having issues in their young lives. He is a veteran of Iraq. She is a young bride trying to stand by her man. It’s been tough…things have happened and some things they caused to happen. They invited me to their church for Wednesday night service and I said I’d come.

I saw an open spot for Lucy to park and I called her but…no cellphone access!! Well, I had walked over two hours and it was getting very warm and humid. I saw an old shack with a bit of a roof over it’s porch. I figured I’d just sit and wait and sooner or later Lucy would come rescue me! Just as I had sat down, a car pulled up. Chris was a sales rep whose curiosity got peaked when he saw me walking. When I mentioned my phone dilemma, he offered me his phone. Verizon gets better coverage here than AT&T and we managed to get through to Lucyah.

I introduced Chris to Lucy when she arrived. She excitedly told me that she had met Arnold and his daughter, Monica and that we were going to speak to the youth at their church that evening. I said, “We can’t. I already made a promise to this young couple that we’d go to their church.” Chris just looked at us and said with a grin “I think it’s time for me to go.” We assured him we would resolve the situation with an arm wrestling match and we gave him a DVD before he left.

“What time does your church service start?” I asked Lucy. “7:00pm,” she replied. “How about yours?” “7:00pm.” I sighed. Neither one of us had a phone number for our new found friends.

“What’s the name of your church, Lucyah?” “First Baptist.” “Where’s it at?” “Lockhart.” “Mine too! Turns out we met four people from the same church! Thank You, God!

When we got to the church, Monica greeted us and informed us that Pastor Ben had suggested we speak to the entire congregation! That shows a lot of faith on the pastor’s part! Since it was a lovely night, we had the service outside. Instead of doing a presentation, we talked about the journey… why, where, when, who, what and how! It was a wonderful evening! More beautiful than I can possibly say. After we spoke, the children gathered around us and laid hands on us and their parents laid hands on them and the rest of the congregation laid hands on the parents. Everyone prayed over us and then Pastor Ben closed. When prayer was completed, they began to sing over us…“It Is Well With My Soul.”

I would have loved to have been a bird looking down from above. Surely we were arranged liked a big beautiful flower of prayer and worship with two tiny servants in the center of it all. Oh my! It was overwhelming.

Afterward, we went inside (to the air conditioning) for soda & pizza. Monica was sweet enough to order a sheet cake that said “3300 miles for Christ” on it. We sat around for another two hours just talking and laughing with folks. Glen Steen, one of God’s men, left for a moment and then came back with a beautiful sturdy walking stick made of dogwood which he was gracious enough to gift to us.

These are the people of America….giving, loving, kind, open and generous.

Please! Please! Please! Do not be deceived by the networks and the newspapers….television is not reality. If you want to learn about the reality of America, get out and let the people talk to you. Listen to them and you will hear the heartbeat of God in the land of the free.