Each guest at St. John’s Ministries has a unique life journey and story worth telling
A reflection written by Fred, a long-time volunteer at St. John’s Ministries
It was a cold Wednesday in December. Like other Wednesdays, I worked at St. John’s Ministries Men’s Shelter from 12:30 to 4 pm accepting donations and answering phone calls. At 4 pm I switched to being a hospitality volunteer. From 4-7 pm, we put snacks together, helped other volunteers serve the evening meal and visited with guests.
On this particular night, we didn’t have a lot of leftover food. Another volunteer and I were buttering bread and making salads. As the night wore on a guy named Mike came up wanting a salad. Then he asked for shredded cheese, saying “Can you go to the fridge and find some?” This bothered me. I was tired. I had stood on my feet for hours and now I’m asked to do special requests. Reluctantly, I went to the fridge and found some.
Everything went well for the rest of the night, but Mike must have noticed a certain “look” I had on my face. He came by me and explained he had throat cancer. That nice cool salad felt good on his throat and the cheese I got from the fridge gave him the protein he needed to survive. He ate nothing else that night.
Mike was actually a good-looking guy and he told me many people called him Tom Selleck, the actor, who has a big mustache and all.
He got his cancer from working on an oil rig many years before. Mike was part of an asbestos lawsuit he said. All of his co-workers had already died from cancer and never received any kind of financial reward for their suffering. That might happen to him too.
But he was content. Every Wednesday he came in and I personally made him a salad. I would tell him how I liked his acting and he said how he enjoyed being “Tom Selleck.” Then he would climb under a blanket and watch TV after eating.
One Wednesday Mike didn’t show. I knew he was in the hospital fighting for his life. I really feel he is in Heaven now.
Mike made me a better person. He helped me serve with joy. I’ll never forget him.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’