Thursday, September 2, 2010

Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart

One of the great joys of serving the city as a missionary is all the people you meet. One such person is Lee Hall. Lee is a missionary taxi driver. He is on a fixed income and spends most of his time running people around. Sick people to the doctor. People who don't have wheels to the store. People who have jobs and no rides back and forth to work. If you need a ride, Lee will take you. He says "yes" with a smile and he means it. It's his joy and his ministry to haul people around. But it wasn't always that way.

You see, Lee takes a little 'gettin' used to'. Let me tell you how much.

By the time we met Lee he had been kicked out of a 'return to work' program and a professional said "he'll never make it". By the time we met him he had been asked to leave a church and never come back because he made people feel uncomfortable. Oh, make that three churches. By the time we met him he had screamed at a bank teller, was accused of stalking people at Walmart, had gotten a DUI and get this... the police had spread the rumor through a bounty hunter that he was a sex offender.

But then we met him.

He came to our office on a referral from one of the above. He was terrified. He thought he was going to slip through the cracks. He didn't believe he was going to make it. As he sat in our office that week we just thought, what can we do? He was pitiful and the pity of Christ moved our hearts toward him. But we had no clue what to do.

So we just put together a team.

We went and met with all the above people (including his therapist). Found out much of what had happened was frustration and misunderstanding. Found out his DUI was really an reaction to a change in prescription that day. Found out from the sheriff that there is a sex offender named Lee Hall in another state who resembles our Lee but IT AIN'T HIM. Found out the reason Lee seemed to be stalking folks and 'making people feel uncomfortable' is that Lee has boundary issues. What that means simply is Lee is like a child when it comes to relationships. He assumes you want to talk to him. He assumes you want to be his friend. He assumes that when someone smiles courteously that means "come over and meet me". He's deeply misunderstood. It's easy to keep your distance from that kinda guy. It's easy to grab your kids and head for the car or have your deacons to ask him to leave. But he's a real guy. He's our Lee. And the real surprise is... God was gonna make him a missionary.

Over the months, through love and encouragement and a team of people from several ministries and agencies, Lee became just 'one of the guys'. Now for some of you he may still seem a little too friendly or a little odd, but I'll tell ya what, if your down and out and you need a ride, or someone to talk to, or someone to care about you in his own special way, just call Lee.

He'll always be there, with a quick 'yes' and a smile.

They say don't judge a book by its cover. Well that phrase may have been written knowing that Lee would be here. But I don't see that phrase as the one that best fits our friend Lee. For me it's the phrase that Samuel used when God told him to go to Jesse's house and anoint a King. After Jesse had brought him all his son's Samuel said, "Are you sure there aren't any more? " And Jesse said," Well, there is one, but surely it can't be him." Samuel taught Jesse a lesson from God that day as King David was anointed. Samuel said, "Jesse, Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart".

To our missionary taxi driver with all his quirks and a heart of gold, "we love you Lee."