An unhappy little boy was walking along a street when he heard a bell ringing and looked up to see many people walking up a wide sidewalk into a beautiful building. He was curious, so he stayed until the last of the people had entered and the door was shut. Then he walked to the door and opened it just enough to slip into the vestibule where he peeked around the corner and listened to all that went on.
Within moments he heard a great swell of beautiful notes from a large organ and then the voices of the many people who had entered the building sang together with one voice. The little boy was amazed at the beautiful sound that washed over him. He stayed motionless so that he could remain undetected in the vestibule and hear everything that happened in the building.
Following the singing of several songs, the little boy heard a man begin to speak. His voice was loud enough to be heard and was also gentle and melodious. His message bespoke a kind nature. The little boy listened and he heard about another meeting to be there in the same building that evening.
All too soon the people began to stir and to rise from their seats to depart. The little boy slipped out…almost without being seen…but not quite. A man in a simple black robe had walked up the aisle ahead of all the other people in order to be there to shake their hands as they departed. He caught a glimpse of the small boy.
That evening when all the people gathered once again, the same gentleman was climbing to the tall platform at the front of the large room when something made him look toward the vestibule. He caught a flash of a small head as it peeked into the great room. The kind man did not make any indication of the sighting, but when he began to speak, his first words were, “This is the house of God. All of God’s children are welcome. Thank you to all who are with us today.”
The little boy in the vestibule heard this message but he thought of the clothes worn by all the people within and about those on own skinny body. He remained in the vestibule.
Later, before the final hymn was sung, the minister left his seat and slipped out the back door. When the little boy opened the front door and squeezed out ahead of all the other people, he walked straight into this kind man. Of course, he did not recognize him for he had not dared to look closely into the church for fear of being seen. How surprised he was when he was spoken to by the same voice he had heard only moments before filling the air of the church.
Taken aback, the little boy began to apologize, “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean no wrong. The bells and the organ and singin’ and your talking were just too wonderful. I had to listen, but I promise I’ll never do it again.”
“Oh, but you must,” said the minister. “I’ve been needing a boy like you to keep the pews polished and the floors swept and to light candles for the service. Can’t we arrange for you to do that?”
So it was arranged and out of the minister’s own pocket the boy was paid a small wage. His family was very poor and he used the money to help his mother and she was very grateful to the minister.
Soon the boy’s mother started attending the church wearing her best clothing, which wasn’t very good at all, and bringing her other son, a small frail child.
The mother was afraid she would not be welcome but she was and before you know it an elderly, widowed parishioner hired her to be his cook; and the little family began to pull itself up and became better off than they had ever been before, which was a very good thing; but perhaps you are wondering why that small boy was walking along the road that day when church bells called him into the house of the Lord. Well, that was the day the little boy had made up his mind to break the glass at the local grocer and grab some food and perhaps some money to take home to his mother who was sobbing because she could not feed his little brother.
The boy had purposed an evil intention, but the Lord had seen a boy who needed a little help and prevented him from ruining his life by committing a crime.
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