Wednesday, December 29, 2010

His Name was Frank - A True Story

It was the summer of 1989.  Kay and I had been at Prince of Peace Church in Arlington for less than a year. It was an interesting first year.  Our third child, Amy, had been born in March. Even though we lived in a marvelous parsonage, our salary, at that time, was "ten percent" of the Sunday offerings.  With a small group attending the church, my weekly salary was anywhere between $25 to $50.  Many times extra food was provided by a woman in the church, who gathered "outdated" items from the local grocers.  We were never without.

It was a Saturday morning.  I received a phone call from a transient that was calling from downtown Arlington. My normal course of action was to refer such calls to the local mission organizations in town, BUT somehow this call seemed different.  The man on the phone, Frank Davis, was needing a place to stay for the night.  His dad, in Chicago, was going to wire money over the weekend. Knowing that we had a couch in the Fellowship Hall of the church, I decided to invite him in.  I was ready to head out to pick him up when my two older children, Josh and Katie, insisted on going with me.  I protested but conceded after several pleas on their part.  I told them to stay in the back seat of the van and not to talk to Frank when I picked him up.

Frank was basically non-descriptive.  Medium build.  Shorts. Tee Shirt.  Tennis shoes.  He hopped in the van and Josh and Katie immediately swarmed him.  When we arrived at home, Kay had prepared him a sandwich and offered to wash the clothes he was wearing.  He wore some of my clothes for the rest of the day.  He left the house for a short time to pick up some small personal items at a nearby convenience store. When he returned he wanted to call his dad in Chicago to make arrangements for wiring money.  He gave me the number for his dad, Grant Davis, and I dialed it.  His dad confirmed his story.  He was extremely grateful that we were helping his son.  He made arrangements to have the money delivered to the church the next morning during worship.

Kay and I weren't sure what we could feed him for supper since we would not be paid until the next day and our cupboard was pretty bare.  We did find a partial brisket in the freezer, a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a can of sweet peas.  Supper was served followed by a long visit at our kitchen table.  He was unusually interested in our style of worship.  He played trumpet and wondered if he could play for us sometime.  He had once played for David Yonchi Cho's church in South Korea.  That comment seemed out of place coming from a transient, but the oddest thing was the insatiable desire of my son Josh to be near Frank.  He hauled out all of his Lego blocks and spent the evening building skyscrapers and houses.

The twin army blanket at my parent's home.
The evening ended with me setting up Frank in the Fellowship Hall.  We gave him a pillow, sheet and favorite Army blanket.  I announced that I would be over about 7 AM to make coffee.  The next day, I greeted Frank and made the coffee.  He had neatly folded the sheet and blanket.  I headed toward through the Fellowship Hall toward my office.  I left the room for only a second when I turned back to get something I forgot in the church kitchen.  Frank was gone.  The outside door had not been opened but I went outside immediately - finding him nowhere in sight.  I did not see him again.  I also noticed that the army blanket was gone.

The money was never delivered.  We held worship, and Kay, the kids and I headed home - pondering the events of the last hours.  After lunch I decided to call his dad again.  I still had his name and number.  I dialed it several times only to get a recorded message that it was not a working number.  I called the operator to discover that it was not only a "non-working" number - it was not a number at all.  The area code was non-existent even though I had dialed it successfully the day before.

I looked again at the the name and number.  All of a sudden - the name written on the paper stood out.  It read Grant O. Davis.  Kay and I stared at each other.  A few months later, during an early morning prayer time, the Lord confirmed to me that He Himself had visited our family that summer day of 1989.  One could say that our ministry has never been the same. 

Our experience reminded me of the Leo Tolstoy's Papa Panov that tells the same story.  The story ends with the following quote:
This was not a dream for he was wide awake. At first he seemed to see before his eyes the long stream of people who had come to him that day. He saw again the old road sweeper, the young mother and her baby and the beggars he had fed. As they passed, each whispered, "Didn't you see me, Papa Panov?"

"Who are you?" he called out, bewildered.

Then another voice answered him. It was the voice from his dream- the voice of Jesus.

"I was hungry and you fed me," he said. "I was naked and you clothed me. I was cold and you warmed me. I came to you today in everyone of those you helped and welcomed."

Then all was quiet and still. Only the sound of the big clock ticking. A great peace and happiness seemed to fill the room, overflowing Papa Panov's heart until he wanted to burst out singing and laughing and dancing with joy.

"So he did come after all!" was all that he said.
Yes, He did come and his name was Frank!
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