During the Great Depression, a number of
unemployed men rode the rails from town to town looking for
employment. Often they would hide in an empty freight car or under
the train itself. Periodically, these men would hop off the train
and knock on the back doors of houses to ask for something to eat.
Francis Shaffer and his wife Edith lived near some railroad
tracks. Edith was amazed at how many men came to their house
asking for food. She later discovered that their house had been
marked. The men marked certain houses along the rail lines to help
them find people who would have compassion.
When one of these men knocked on their back door, Edith would not
think, "Oh, no. There’s another one! With all I have to do
today...." Instead, her heart would leap for joy as she
preceded to prepare a tray of food.
"I would butter the bread, cut a lovely big tomato in even slices
and pepper them, place them on the bread, and then decide to add
bacon. I would sizzle one slice to fold over the tomato and add
two leaves of lettuce. For a second sandwich I’d prepare him my
own favorite: walnut halves stuck into the butter, salted on one
slice, and then the second piece of buttered bread placed on top.
Now for the steaming hot soup..."
Edith’s children would help her fix a tiny bouquet of flowers in
an ivy leaf to decorate the tray. Her daughter would ask, "What’ll
he think of all that, Mummy?"
Edith would then put a gospel of John next to the flowers and
bring it all out to the man on the back porch. "Please read this.
It really is very important."
The men were often in a state of shock. They would mumble
something like, "Is all this for me, ma’am?" Many had never been
treated that way in their lives.
Good works like this don’t just happen. They come from a specific
mind set, which Edith chose to adopt. Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not
neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have
entertained angels unawares." Edith would think, "How would I
want to treat this person if he were an angel? He might actually
A second scripture contributed to Edith’s mind set. In Matthew
25:35-36,40 Jesus says to the righteous, "I was hungry and you
gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a
stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I
was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to
me....Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of
these my brethren, you did it to me." Edith thought,
"How would I want to treat this person if he were the Lord Jesus
Whether good or bad, what
we do unto ‘one of the least of these’ is accepted by the Lord as
having been done unto Him. What a key to help us become more
In Galatians 4:14-15 Paul writes, "and though my condition was a
trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as
an angel of God, as Christ Jesus....For I bear you witness that,
if possible, you would plucked out your eyes and given them to