He saw a notice on a storefront - WORSHIP SERVICE EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK - DINNER SERVED - VISITORS WELCOME.
The church was nearby, this was the first night, and he was hungry. He walked into the brisk wind as he headed for the church. He went inside and waited until all the others had gone through the food line. When he got to the serving table, a tear fell from his eye, because it had been some time since he had seen so much food. He hurriedly filled his plate and went to a corner to eat.
Afterwards, he followed the others to the worship service where he found a seat on the back pew. Some people turned around, probably wondering who was this person in the ragged coat, holes in his shoes, and stubble on his face.
The first night?s sermon was about love, and he felt all warm inside when he heard the congregation sing "Oh, How I Love Jesus." When the service ended, he bowed his head for a minute, and then got up to go back out into the cold.
The next night he came back, only this time he brought a friend much like himself. This time he took more joy in seeing his friend eat than he did himself, for he knew that his friend had had nothing to eat for two days.
As the two of them seated themselves for the service, many of the congregation turned and looked at them, and then turned and whispered something to their neighbor. This time the pastor preached about The Good Samaritan. The service closed with the singing of "Just As I Am", and as he started singing he noticed a lump in his throat and tears streaming down his cheeks. His friend noticed too, and reached over and clasped his hand. When the service ended, he again bowed his head, only longer this time, and his friend did, as well.
When he arrived at the church the following night, someone met him at the door. A man informed him that several of the people of the church had been talking about him. They did not want any freeloaders, so he could not come in, but if he would promise never to come back again the man would make a sandwich for him to take with him. He felt like leaving, but he was hungry, so he waited. When the man returned and gave him the sandwich, he took it and turned to leave.
As he looked up, he saw his friend starting to climb the church steps. He informed his friend that they were no longer allowed inside, and then took his sandwich and broke it in to and gave half to his friend. They chatted briefly and then his friend left. He took a bite of his half of the sandwich, and then started off in the other direction.
He had gone only a few steps when he almost stumbled over something. It was an old man with no legs, huddled against the church to keep out of the wind. The old man asked him if he could have a bite of his sandwich. He bent over and gave him all of it and turned and walked away, and as he did, the old man broke into a wide grin and hollered out to him, "Thank you, Jesus."
The next night he found himself walking by another church with a sign that read - SERVICE TONIGHT - DINNER PROVIDED - VISITORS WELCOME, but he just walked on by into the night, even though he was once again cold and hungry.