The girls were able to leave Donna's apartment safely, and the young man attended on a Wednesday night not long after this incident. After a brief devotional and the extending of an invitation, this young man responded. Knowing only his Catholic background, he went up to the very front and knelt right in front of the pulpit. It seems that nearly all of us were frozen by this unexpected move. It was unorthodox. As he made the sign of the cross repeatedly, it was uncomfortable. No doubt several wondered, "How should this be handled?" While we all stood and sang, mired in perplexity, Ron Herman, one of our elders, walked up to the young man. Perhaps many of us thought, "Good, Ron will escort him to the front pew to the 'scriptural' place for handling responses."
No. Ron immediately modeled Christ in a most compassionate way. Ron knelt beside him, putting his arm around this big, burly young man. He quietly, gently discussed with him the nature of his problem that moved him to respond. Ron was affirming, smiling, and empathetic. After the song, Ron informed the congregation that this young man wanted us to pray for him.
So far as I know, this young man has never obeyed the gospel. In fact, soon after his public response, he was incarcerated. But I learned a lot about what matters most that evening. Ron was a professional educator, serving in school administration for his long, illustrious career. Oh, how much he taught us that night. He was a shepherd exemplifying Christ to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3). Too often we get uncomfortable when we need to get unseated, and we get embarrassed when we need to get encouraging. So many among us are hurting and are unsure of what to do. They are unsure of how we, the church, will respond. Let us have the love and courage to respond just as Christ would. Just as Ron did!