My 15 year stint in the corporate world was in the Real Estate department of a bank, collecting on past due mortgage payments.
One day, I called on someone regarding their past due payments. The man who answered the phone was obviously upset and very distressed. After identifying myself, I asked him if he was OK.
Mr. Jones honestly said,
“No. I am not OK. I just came in from the hospital to change clothes and grab a bite to eat. My wife is still there and will take her turn at home when I get back to the hospital. My son fell off a slide at school earlier this week and it was several hours later when the school finally notified us. The doctors performed one surgery, but now his brain is swelling out of the cranium and the doctors don’t know whether he will survive, and if he does how badly brain damaged he will be.”
Now remember, I worked in collections. My ONLY job was to call and find out when payment would be made. However, once I heard that story, I could not bring myself to ask for payment. It was the furthest thing from the mind of Mr. Jones, and I just wasn’t going there. Instead, I began asking questions that were really none of my business.
Sally: “Do you attend church anywhere?”
Mr. Jones: “Yes, but I haven’t gone for a long time. We have been having some financial difficulties and have not been able to tithe as much as we should. I feel embarrassed that I can’t pay my tithe, so I don’t go. I feel unwelcome when I can’t pay tithe and offering.
Sally: “What is the name of the church?”
Mr. Jones: “The church is _____ located in _________ California.
Sally: “OK. Well, listen, you go take care of your son.. I am going on vacation starting when I get off work today. I will check in with you when I return. In the meantime, I will put your record out of the call cue so that no one will bother you for the next two weeks. I pray that your son has a miracle healing
and gets well soon.
Mr. Jones choked out “Thanks” and hung up.
Once I had hung up the telephone, I called directory assistance, obtained the number for the chruch, then called the church.
Sally: “Hello, my name is Sally. I was just talking with one of your members, Mr. Jones. Do you know that family?”
Receptionist: “Yes, but we have not seen them for awhile.”
Sally: “Well, that family is having a really hard time financially just now and Mr. Jones feels embarrassed that he cannot pay tithe so stays away from church. But that is not the reason I called. The Jones family desperately needs their church just now. You see, his son had an accident, has had brain surgery and is not expected
to live and if he should live, is expected to be severely brain damaged. He is at the hospital. The mother is there now. Can you get the pastor over there right away?
The receptionist agreed to tell the pastor of the urgent need of the family and we rang off.
I then called the Unity church that I attended, and requested prayer for the child. Then having done all I could do, I closed out my day and went on vacation, hoping and praying the child would be OK.
When I returned two weeks later, I was called into the Department Manager’s office. I went, wondering what I could possibly have done wrong during two weeks of vacation.
She sat behind her desk with a stern look on her face. She had a file folder on her desk with some hand written notes. She asked if I remembered Mr. Jones. When I said that I did, she handed a folded note to me, then picked up another and read from it.
Basically, it told her what Mr. Jones knew of my efforts on his behalf. (He did not know about the call to Unity – which also initiated a second prayer chain.) The pastor had shown up at hospital shortly after Mr. Jones and I had hung up. Mr. Jones wondered how Pastor knew he was needed. Pastor could only tell that someone named Sally had called and given his receptionist what for about the Jones family situation, but had refused to provide any other details about herself than her name.
Pastor had dropped everything and rushed straight to the hospital. Mr. Jones, remembering that he gave me all those details that he was just too upset to refuse, understood, and knew exactly who had made the call.
The receptionist, in the meantime, had called other church members and explained the urgent need for prayer. They had called others. It seems, a prayer chain went around the world for this child. Apparently, the church was very organized and had a call tree for just such emergencies.
Johnny did not need the second surgery. The swelling went down, he had healed and there was no known brain damage at that time. He was up and walking and talking and reading and wanting to go back to school.
There were other miracles: The church offered to help with any medical bills not covered by insurance. They paid for an attorney to step in and get the school to also provide assistance.. (The surgeon felt the school was somewhat responsible for the severity of the damage because they had not notified the parents for several hours after the accident.) The surgeon discounted his fees. The church offered assistance to help the family get their financial situation back under control. The mortgage payments were current when I looked at his record later that day.
These details were in the note Mr. Jones sent to my department manager. These were what he had told my Manager. There was also a note from the Pastor saying thanks for the call. And a note from the surgeon saying that the healing was definitely a miracle. He (the surgeon) believed in the power of prayer and the family had resisted his requests to call their church.
The note to me just said
Sally, Thanks for your caring & compassionate soul. Your call to our pastor probably saved my son’s life. I am grateful that you cared enough to make the call that I could not bring myself to make. We now attend services every time the doors are open and announce our gratitude to all who come into our sphere of influence. Thank you for opening the door for our return to God. I have sent a note of explanation and thanks to your boss. I hope that was OK. Thank you for sticking your neck out on our behalf. We will never forget the service you provided to our family.
The Jones Family
The manager then sternly addressed the matter of my getting personally involved with a client. I simply said to her: “Sorry you are upset with what I did. It was done spontaneously out of the need of the moment. Being who I am, I could have done no less. I will probably do it again when the need arises.”
I was simply way too good at my job for her to threaten any disciplinary action if I ever did it again. . She made lots of bonus dollars because I nearly always met the goals she set each quarter. Probably more than enough to make her house payments for the whole quarter.
And I DID do it again – many times over the intervening years between the Jones family incident, and the end of my service in that position. When the needs of the families in distress outweighed my need to collect their mortgage payments, I made calls on their behalf – to churches, other family members, local charities – wherever I was guided to ask for help for the family, I did. Usually with excellent results for the families involved and my employer, too.
I didn’t intervene lightly. Only when my insistent intuition would not leave me be and I had to “do something” in order to get it to quiet, would I ever intervene. Then I would pray and ask for guidance, which I always felt I received, fully.
Moral: You never know how far-reaching a single act of kindness will be.
Note: The names have been changed to protect the privacy of all involved.