We often have a “mindset” or preconceived idea of what kind of individual we would think would frequent a mission. We imagine a person who struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or someone who is unmotivated and has consequently become homeless.
I could write at length to tell stories of those who have come to the mission whose lives are so far from those images. Allow me to share just one as an example.
Over 35 years ago while I was directing another mission, a retired Brigadier General of the Israeli army walked through our doors at the mission. He was not a volunteer, but was in need of shelter. Ezekiel Shachar (nicknamed Hezzy) was a highly decorated military officer having planned the Six Day war as well as having had several other military successes to his credit. HE actually used the Old Testament of the Bible to plan his strategy for his maneuvers.
On retiring, he and his wife began travelling the world and while visiting a casino, he said that “the gambling bug bit him”. This became a tremendous addiction that chained him over the next several years although all the while he owned/managed a major appliance franchise in his country. Prior to entering the mission, he had lost $375,000.00 in the casino and found himself broke and homeless. He had a return ticket to Jerusalem however, it was dated for 10 days later. In total despair, frustration and much anxiety he suffered a heart attack.
He was taken to the hospital and it was recommended that he have open heart surgery. Instead, he signed himself out and came to the mission on recommendation of the hospital’s social worker. On arriving at the mission he picked up a Bible and began reading the New Testament. He realized his own emptiness and failures. He read the Bible all night in search of answers to his broken life.
Early the next morning, our Jordanian cook shared his personal testimony of his trusting Christ as his Savior and the changes that the Lord had brought about in his life as well as the contentment, hope, peace, love and joy that he now knew.
“Hezzy” wanted that change in his life and followed the lead of his new friend. They became the best of friends over the next weeks and months. In their homeland, they would have been enemies, but in the safety of the mission, they became steadfast friends. Both men gained victory over their gambling addictions and experienced new found peace and purpose for life and living!
They each were so very different, as to their cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicity yet in the situations of life they became same in heart, passion and faith. Indeed, “THE SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME’!