No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service

by | Jun 3, 1999 | Acceptance, Church, Judging

He appeared to be very nervous as he walked through the large wooden church doors. His head was lowered and his eyes looked directly at the tile floor as he walked very slowly towards the far back pew, away from the rest of the congregation.

The preacher immediately ceased talking and slowly lowered his arms, which he had been flinging about during the course of the sermon. He shifted his eyes towards the young man as he accidentally slid the heavy wooden church bench while trying to quietly sit down.

The deacons and choir master began to whisper among themselves as several of the other members of the church began to turn around and look at the unshaven figure. I had noticed when he walked into the church that he was very thin, dirty and that he was not wearing any shoes, and that he looked awfully hungry.

He constantly smiled at all the little children from the orphanage, when we would turn around to look at him. But then the matron slapped me on the leg because I dropped the nickel onto the wooden bench, which the orphanage had given me to put into the collection plate. So I did not turn around and look at him any more. I always liked the money collection part of the church service best because I knew that it was almost over and we would get to go home soon.

The preacher started talking, on and on about how people should dress up for church and that they should cut their hair and be clean before coming to services. I knew that he was talking about the man in the back of the church because he had long hair and he was not very clean looking. But the man just sat there. He smiled and never said a word. He just sat there raising his hands towards the church ceiling and saying out loud “Praise the father in Heaven”, real loud like.

The older church people would look at him like he was crazy or something, but he sure didn’t look crazy to me.

The preacher finally walked off the platform and whispered something into the deacons ear. The deacon got up from his chair and walked down the side isle, next to the pretty colored glass windows, and he asked the man to leave because he was disrupting the church service. The young man just looked up at the deacon and smiled. Without saying a word he rose to his feet, turned and walked towards the two large wooden doors leading out of the church.

As he reached the doors he once again stopped, turned around and smiled at everyone. He reached over and picked up the entire stack of “The Upper Room” pamphlets, which were always sitting on the table by the entrance and he gently turned them face down and then he walked out the large wooden doors.

I will never forget the kindness I saw in that man’s smile. A man with a very kind face having to leave the church that Sunday morning because of the way he was dressed and not clean shaven.

I never saw that man again after that, I don’t think. But he sure looked an awful lot like the man who was in the shinny pictures in the middle of my bible.

Roger Kiser Author of “Orphan”


No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service