Without question some of the most gracious people I have ever met in my life were in NY. One time we stayed with Vivian Williams in Flushing. We arrived at her very small apartment. She was a short ½ black, ½ white lady about 40 years old, maybe 35. She had a son named Vinny. She was divorced and worked hard to eek out a living. She was so excited that we were coming to NY to serve her church. She made plans to live with someone else for the week. She gave us her apartment. It was amazing generosity. Before we arrived she placed “Post-It” stickers throughout her apartment. She put notes on each of them which gave us certain directions about this or that. For example, she placed a note on the fridge saying that we could have anything we wanted in the fridge, but she asked that we not use anything on the bottom shelf. We looked at the bottom shelf and it had her medicine stored there. She had sticky notes on her cabinets letting us know what was where. On her linen drawer there was a sticky so we’d know where the linens were. She placed a sticky at the foot of her bed saying that it might be more comfortable sleeping with your head at the foot rather than the headboard because the fan would be directly over your head and you wouldn’t get as hot. There were probably 25 sticky notes in her apartment. She had one on a basket of fruit asking us to eat it so it wouldn’t spoil. She bought it for us. She was a remarkable woman. I was incredibly rebuked in my heart by this short “half-breed”. She had more God about her than I ever imagined or thought I could have. She was full of life when it appeared life was about to roll over her. Her husband left her, her son was in rebellion, she had to walk through gangs to get to her apartment, her job was hard, life was one continual chore. Even typing this paragraph brings me to tears thinking about how full of God she was. I want to be more like her. She was remarkable.
There were several other ladies and men in the church that were similar. One lady would always say, “God is good”. I don’t remember her name, but her attitude is impossible to forget. She was full of life though she, too, was divorced and struggling along. She was Indian (from India) I believe. Her soul desire was to serve others. One thing for sure is that these folks loved God supremely. They lived in difficult circumstances, but they had a heart attitude that was full of love. They were in survival mode. NY is a hard place to live. Their challenges are much different than where I live. We have the luxury to be spoiled. We don’t see a lot of murder. We can walk the streets at night. We don’t have to pray for a parking place. We don’t have to walk over drunks to get into the church meeting. We are not confronted with porn as we walk down our streets or have to receive tracts about porn as we’re moving along. We have nice church buildings with adequate parking and very few hassles. I’m not ashamed of this or feel guilty about this. It is where I live and God has blessed this area of the country in a different way than he has blessed NY. Our temptations can be quite different, the test of prosperity. However, I did learn a lot from those guys. They were amazing. I will forever be indebted for what I learned from my friends.