It was late afternoon, and after going to see her newly adopted family and finding out the necessary expenses she was going to have to be footing from now onwards, she was on her way to church for the follow-up meeting.
She sighed as she arrived at the parking lot. Looking at the cars around, she knew she was in for quite a tough time. Especially that familiar Chevrolet Spark Lite. It meant Nathaniel was around.
His reaction over the phone when she called was anything but friendly. She hadn’t even gotten the chance to explain why she was absent; he was too livid over her no-show to listen to whatever she had to say. Typical of him. Fred was not wrong, he was quite the prim and proper kind of guy, as were most of the others. In love with sticking to the script. If so much as one thing was off detail, trouble.
She took note of the Toyota Camry with the ER registration plate. Barbara was in too. Another stickler for sticking to the script.
Well, Fred did give me that heads-up. Chale, I’m in for quite a drilling. Lord, soften their hearts.
She got out of her car, locked it and made her way to the youth hall where most of the executives would be waiting.
“… so that was the reason why I didn’t make it yesterday,” she explained, keeping her voice as calm and confident as possible. Which wasn’t very easy, considering how most of the eyes fixated on her seemed more interested in unleashing their vitriol on her than discovering why she had failed to show up for the previous day’s meeting.
She continued. “I realize that at the very least, I could have borrowed someone’s phone to call one of you and explain what the hold-up was all about. I totally neglected to do that. I just want to say that I’m sorry for my failure to show up.”
Silence all around. She silently prayed that they would at least be moved by the story and accept her reason for the absence.
Nathaniel shook his head. Clearly not impressed by her speech, he said, “Not good enough, Jennifer. Not good enough. Nothing should have prevented you from being here yesterday. Or you’ve forgotten how important the meeting was? That was not the time for you to go around performing welfare duties.”
“Exactly!” Barbara added, also looking very displeased. “There was so much on the agenda, and your presence was needed to sort things out for the convention in the next two weeks.”
Oh boy. Just as I expected. They just won’t accept it.
“But I sent the documents via email…” she attempted to add.
“Not good enough! Just sending the documents and not showing up is not good enough!” Nathaniel interjected, raising his voice. “We’re looking to make sure the upcoming convention is the best one we’ve had in a while, and everyone’s role is necessary. There’s no space for excuses…”
As she received the heavy outpour of rebukes and blasts from the others about her absence, she noticed one of the cleaners coming out of one inner office not too far from where they were seated. He looked oddly familiar. As if she had seen him already today…
Amoateng’s voice snapped her out of her brief distraction. She turned to face them again.
“Are you serious at all? We’re pointing out how serious this action of yours is, and you’re busily staring into space?” Barbara questioned, sounding quite disgusted.
Nathaniel sat back and shook his head as he folded his arms, continuing to give her a hard stare. “I’m not gonna lie, Jennifer. You’re usually someone we can depend on when it comes to these matters. But I’m terribly disappointed in you this time. Very, very disappointed.”
Jennifer told there silently, clearly out of words.
Then the cleaner she had noticed, who had been standing at the exit door, suddenly put down the bucket he had been holding and moved to where the brief meeting was taking place.
Nathaniel held his fire as he noticed the elderly man approaching. He quickly put on a friendly expression and stood up respectfully as the cleaner arrived. “Oh, uh, is there anything you need, boss?” he asked.
The cleaner ignored his friendly show and looked around. Then he began to speak.
“I heard everything that was being said while I cleaned the office, and I must say, I’m disappointed in all of you.”
That took everyone aback. Including Jennifer.
He pointed at her. “This young lady you see right here. Even if she didn’t come for your meeting or whatever it is you’re raging about, she doesn’t deserve the treatment you’re giving her. Do you realize she saved a life yesterday?”
Looking at him again, she realized who it was.
Wait! That’s the cleaner I saw just as I left the hospital this morning! He works here too?
“I was in the room of that woman whose life she saved. The woman spoke to me after I finished my job there. Do you know what she said? She said she had been losing faith in the church. That all the people she knew as believers were not interested in helping her. Church elders. Deacons and deaconesses. All in love with doing big things for church programs. But none of them would lift a finger to help her. She was losing faith until this young lady came her way! Because Christians these days are more concerned with playing church than being the hands and feet of Christ!
“All of you, you’re more concerned with having a perfect program than actually showing the love of Christ to those who need it! Agendas and religion is what you people are more interested in. Do you know you’re no different than the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan?”
Some of them seemed pretty uncomfortable with that statement. A few looked like they were ready to argue with that. Including Nathaniel.
“Sir, with all due respect, you don’t understand. This program is very important…” he began.
“Gentleman, I don’t care about your flimsy little explanations! Now be quiet and listen to me.”
At that point, nobody else wanted to follow in Nathaniel’s footsteps. This man meant business.
“If any of you with this attitude had encountered that little boy, you’d obviously have ignored him. Then what would have happened? An innocent woman would have lost her life, and her children would be orphans by now. Do you know how much that would grieve God’s heart? But it wouldn’t matter to you, would it? Because your focus is all on putting up perfect shows and making people believe God is working. I’m so disappointed in you all. No compassion! None! This is not the attitude of a disciple of Christ!”
At this point, a lot of heads were bowed in shame.
“Do you think this is what Jesus saved you for? Just to come and play church? You think that’s it? Doesn’t the Bible you people read mention how Jesus was moved with compassion for the masses? He wasn’t interested in just preaching a good sermon or having a good reading at the synagogue. It was much deeper than that! You are Christians. Compassion must be in your DNA. Because your Heavenly Father is compassionate!”
Total silence. Unhappy and ashamed faces all around.
He walked over to Jennifer. Patting her on the back, he said, “Let this be a teachable lesson to all of you. Your Christianity means nothing if you’re obsessed with outward shows yet can’t show love and compassion when it’s needed. It means nothing. Follow this young lady’s example. Your programs and all may be important, but to show the love of Christ and make an indelible impact in the life of someone who needs it? That’s what touches God’s heart more than anything else.”
Remember, at the end of the day, showing compassion to others and being the hands and feet of Christ is essential! As the cleaner said: You are Christians. Compassion must be in your DNA. Because your Heavenly Father is compassionate!