John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
I worked for a retail store in my small hometown of Perry in 2016. We didn't see as many homeless people as you might see in big cities such as Dallas or Atlanta, but one thing I have noticed is that when someone who is homeless is noticed, more than half of town pitches in to help this person in anyway possible. Around this time last year was when I met Sam. The first glimpse of this homeless man was at around four o'clock in the afternoon.
He came in with a buggy that held an acoustic guitar and a bag with his belongings. I greeted him as I did with all of my customers who would walk through the door, rich or poor. He wandered the store a little while and came to the register with a pair of walking shoes in noticeably good condition.
"Sir, how much are these shoes?" asked Sam, the long-haired gentleman who struggled to hold himself up. I took the shoes from him and looked at the bottom where we price the shoes.
"These are $9.99," I replied. The look he gave me absolutely broke my heart.
"I thought they were only four dollars," Sam replied as he stared at the shoes. "They're good shoes." As much as I hated to, if I had sold those shoes, I would've had to sell them at the price my employer was asking for. He walked out. Later that night, around 7:30 p.m., he stumbled in the door again with his guitar and bag.
"Do you have any blankets?" said Sam.
I walked him to the back where we kept our blankets. I made small talk, asking him if he could play guitar well. He told me he had 50 years of experience; needless to say, I was quite impressed. As we looked through the blankets, seeing the prices, I saw the despair in his face. After a short minute, I took $10 out of my pocket and gave it to him to get him a warm cover for the nights to come. Winter nights can be harsh. He insisted that I pick him a cover and I picked the heaviest, thickest material I could find for under ten dollars.
Before the night was over, I asked him if he knew God. He agreed. We even got on the topic about books. He enjoyed reading. He told me about two books he was reading, and I told him about the book I wrote, Breaking Stereotypes. Considering one of the main supporting characters in my book is Sammy Hike, oddly enough, this homeless man's name was Sam. He told me to keep writing. He really enjoyed hearing about my book and thinks it will be a good one.
He came in two days later and told me that I saved his life by buying the blanket for him. I never saw him again, after that day.
Moral of the story is this: You never know who you might find inspiring until you break the stereotypes. The light on this man's face now inspires me to keep helping others. I even found the courage to write a sequel to my first book. He just might've been an angel to keep my mind focused amidst the distractions. Stay true to your heart.
“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.” (Matthew 23:35-36)