Ch. 46 A Light In The Darkness

A Light In The Darkness
Steven G. O'Dell (C) 2010

...that when ye are in the service of your fellow man, ye are only in the service of your God.

I will never forget the name Abraham Schaefer, nor how this humble, kind and caring Jewish man taught me the extent to which God will go to show His love for His children, Israel.

It was early in the 1970's in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and I was serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our apartment was above a store at the corner of King and Arthur streets. I always saw the humor in that. I still do.

The day in question started as any other. We studied the map and decided where we would go that day to do the Lord's work. No specific impressions being received at that point, we chose an area we had not yet covered together. Our assignment, however, was soon to be changed.

As we were en route to our chosen area, we both stopped suddenly and felt strongly prompted as we reached a particular street. After a moment of discussion and agreement on the prompting, we turned and proceeded down that street, choosing a side at random, as no further impression was given. In short order, we would know we had chosen correctly.

The first half of the block was just as any other we had encountered—no answer, 'not interested', 'we have our own church', etc. The home of Abraham Schaefer was to be different, however. Just how different would be a surprise to us all.

Mr. Schaefer was sitting on his porch, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, we assumed. We informed him of our purpose as we stood on his walkway, not presuming to intrude onto his porch. He informed us he was Jewish in belief and practice and had no real interest in our message, but as he looked up and noticed the sky darkening, he invited us to come into his home with him until the storm should pass.

This, I am convinced, was no ordinary storm. What had been a moment before a clear sky was now covered in thick, dark clouds and thunder was beginning to sound in our ears. As we entered the house, Mr. Schaefer mentioned that he was not feeling too well. He introduced us to his grown daughter and within a few moments we were surprised to see him begin to collapse and we eased him to the floor. His daughter began to panic and had no idea what to do. Responding to our firm, but gentle command, she got on the phone and called for emergency medical assistance. They seemed to arrive quickly, as we made every effort to keep Mr. Schaefer and his daughter calm.

I recall that as we were watching him being loaded into the ambulance, the sun suddenly broke through the blackest of clouds and the sky began to rapidly clear. The same clouds that had seemed to come out of nowhere, now proceeded to return to the same place in the same fashion. And there we all stood, in the very middle of the rays of sunshine from Heaven. This had indeed been no ordinary thunderstorm. The hand of God had been in it, I am convinced.

I wonder if anyone else saw the significance in the symbolism. God's light shining down out of the darkness, the storms of life, focusing on His beloved children – those who were here to assist the needy and afflicted, to calm the concerns and the souls of the worried. To show His love of His children, Israel, and to show His approval of an assignment well done by faithful servants. It was a humbling experience and the rest of the day seemed much more ordinary as a result.

The next day, my companion and I visited the hospital where Abraham Schaefer had been taken. As we asked where he was roomed, we were told without equivocation that had we not responded as quickly as we did and been there when we were, he would not have made it to the hospital alive. It had been a massive heart attack and scant minutes had mattered greatly and saved his life. Yet again were we humbled to have been part of such an extraordinary experience.

As we entered his room, Mr. Schaefer was alert, but bedridden, as expected. He brightened in countenance as we entered and bade us to come in. After a few moments of small talk, if you can call it that in such an instance, he told us to reach for his wallet in his trousers nearby. Our curiosity was soon to be satisfied as he pulled a small amount of money from the wallet and placed it in my hands with instructions that I was to donate it to the church. I was somewhat stunned, but again humbled, at the irony of the situation. Here was a devout Jewish man making a cash contribution to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Miracles do happen, don't they?

I made sure to fill out a tithing slip and place the name of Abraham Schaefer on it, placing the money into the envelope with it. I wanted this dear and kind man to receive every blessing afforded those who pay tithing to the Lord. And I trust that God did indeed bless him for his faith and works in that regard.

Brother Abraham Schaefer, I want to thank you personally for teaching me the extent to which God goes to provide for His children of the house of Israel. Because of the chance to serve you, I got to be an instrument in the hands of God and I saw the love He has for His children, firsthand, even to the intervening in their behalf. May God be with and bless you always, my dear brother. Thank you, again.

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