Governor Jesus Aguilar Padilla attended the Vineyard Church in Mazatlan, Mexico, a few Sundays ago, and Dave was there. Padilla had come to honor the church's dedication to ministry and to acknowledge all the Vineyard does for the poor in the area.
The governor made a monetary donation and then walked around with the collection plate, insisting his bodyguards do the same, a sight Dave found very impressive. During that same service, the Vineyard pastor spoke of a Mazatlan homeless man who had found a wallet, hidden it for safe keeping and waited for the owner to retrace her steps to find it.
When no one claimed the purse, the homeless man turned it in to authorities who were able to return the wallet to a very grateful Canadian tourist.
So taken was the governor by this story, he pledged a month's salary to this homeless man. I happened to be at the church (for spring break) when the check was presented to him.
Now clean and spiffed, the homeless man looked like he could be my dentist or lawyer.
Following the service, the governor's assistant spoke and asked for the church to continue to help this man so that he would not return to his past ways "which are great problems to him."
She did not give details. "With that much money given, it's easy to spend it on foolhardy things and not help your future out with it," she said, in broken English.
The Vineyard has pledged to work with this man to help him turn his life around.
The money is a great jumpstart to a better life, but we all know it is not the solution to the problem or problems that the man will continue to face.
Remember my article about Chris Berry, Adam's homeless ex-teammate, who squandered Adam's monetary gift and died a few months later? The future of the Mazatlan man will be determined by the choices he makes. Those choices will be influenced strongly by the amount and duration of the help he receives from church members, and that is the hard part. Those who volunteer to work with this man probably will be in for the long haul.
If you have ever been called to deal with a trial for an extended period of time, you know how the stories go. Many have enthusiasm at the beginning of a challenge, but there is something special about the individual who cares for the invalid or visits the nursing home or raises the foster children, good times and bad, year after year.
For those, an extraordinary dedication is required.
The Apostle Paul's letters frequently remind us that life can be tough and that we must persist. On one occasion he compared life to a particular kind of race -- a marathon.
Success in a marathon does not depend upon a flash of speed that comes and goes, but on a steady pace that remains after the initial excitement of the start has waned.
If the governor's assistant is correct, then the future life of the homeless man might rest on whether he is surrounded by marathoners or sprinters. For his sake, let us pray that he is surrounded by the former.