Patience + kindness
Dr. Steve Wende, minister of the First Methodist Church in Houston, tells how he discovered the incredible power of such love as a college student back in the Sixties when there were lots of marches and demonstrations going on all across our nation.
He had a dormitory friend who took part in every one that came along. Most of the time his friend didn’t know what they were about, didn’t care what they were about. He was a bright young man but a very angry young man, a rebel lashing out at all the world. He didn’t trust anyone over thirty and not very many under thirty.
One day there was a demonstration in the student union that turned into a riot. The police were called out, tear gas was fired, windows were broken out. The rioting students were herded out through the broken glass, loaded into vans and taken off to jail.
Dr. Wende’s friend was a part of the riot, probably helped start it. The next Sunday morning he was in church. Why? Not from being in jail—he had been in jail many times before. It was something far, far more.
This is how his friend explained it: “As I stumbled out of the student union, half blinded, losing the sandals I was wearing, a policeman with hands like a vice grabbed my arm. I fully expected a night stick to the head; instead I heard him say as gently as he could, ‘Careful son, don’t cut your feet on the glass.’
“He guided me to one of the vans. When it was full he got in to ride with us. Stunned that he would be so kind, I began a conversation. At the jail, as we were booked and put in cells, the conversation continued— outside the bars, through the bars and eventually inside the bars.
“Throughout the long evening we talked. Finally, at two o’clock in the morning he said to me, ‘Son, at some point don’t you think you ought to ask God to help you? Help you with your decisions; help you with your dreams; help you with your life?’ Sunday morning I was in church.”
Dr. Wende says, “Two months later he walked down to the altar and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. And to think that for months I had invited him to church using every theological and philosophical argument I could muster to no avail. What turned the tide? You know what did it—a policeman with patience plus kindness. You will never find anything greater!” Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.