An old man in a dirty gray overcoat pulled Pastor Herb aside after the evening service. His hard piercing eyes looked at Herb for a moment before starting with coarse attitude and voice. “I’ve been watching you. I’ve been watching your group of Christians here too. You’ve impressed me and that’s not easy to do.”
Herb could see his face change, the hardness leave. A softer look appeared for a moment. “A long time ago I wasn’t what I am now. My mother…” The old man had to pause and stop for a moment. “My mother led me to the Lord when I was six years old. Took me to Sunday School and church at an old country church, just like what you have here. When I was a young man I turned my back on the Lord. Haven’t done a thing for him since.”
The old man paused again. Suddenly, as if coming to a decision, he thrust an envelope into Herb’ hands. Holding on to Herb’ hands with now trembling fingers, the old man looked into Herb’ eyes. “I owned most of downtown Ravenna, what’s left of it. It’s all gone. I won’t rebuild any of it, not at my age. I have no family or any desire to resume my ways here.”
Then, as if throwing off a heavy burden and with a twinkle in his eye he told Herb. “Now, I’m going to put that money to better use. I’ve watched you. You have a genuine Spirit here. I think I may become a regular member! Wouldn’t that be something?” He grinned as if a huge joke had been told.
“I’m going to support your work here.” He gestured toward the envelope. “There will be more of these, many more. What good will it do me to die with millions of dollars and let thousands not hear the Word of God!”
Herb opened the envelope. It contained a check written for $165,000. It was signed by Reginald Thornton. “Why, you’re Mr. Thornton! You own the bank and…,”
Mr. Thornton shook his head. “Can we start something new here? Please call me Reggie. I’ll need that. I haven’t let anyone call me Reggie since my college days.
“Ok Reggie. Call me Herb.”
That done, the old man abruptly turned away into the crowd.
Herb didn’t move from the spot. Instead he waited for the moment to pass. How about that. Hmmm, how about that!
After the service, those members and regulars who’d been allowed in earlier were escorted out as evening darkness crept over the scene. Tent City and the crossroads were locked down for the night. A few from Tent City hung around the small stage, still talking it out with God. In spite of all that darkness threw against these dedicated Christians, God’ Grace grew the more as people flocked to His simple message. That remained as the lead event of the weekend. Lives turned to Jesus Christ.