Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who is a neighbor?

As the Bible professor walked onto campus from his spacious, middle-class neighborhood, his thoughts kept volleying from one topic back to the other, like a ping-pong ball.  He was headed to the last class of the semester, about to give his favorite final, in his favorite class – Old Testament Survey. This exam, all essay, usually prompted the most lively responses.
After a semester of charged discussions and a few heated arguments, it was always exhilarating for him to see what individual students wrote down for their final grade. And this semester, with Abdul sitting in the front row, had been especially intense. Abdul didn’t share much of his personal life but he had questions about everything. He was a good student and appeared to devour every reading assignment that was given, even though English was obviously not his first language. They knew that he had moved from the Middle East just two years before. It was obvious that he knew the Koran well; he quoted it and often compared and contrasted it to the Scriptures they were studying. It was a puzzle as to why Abdul was even attending a Christian college or why he had chosen this particular Bible class; it wasn’t a requirement for his major of social work.
But this morning, his usual last-day-of-the-semester exuberance was continually interrupted by visions of the events of the night before. On the news just last night there had been a video, several videos, actually, put together by numerous by-standers to a robbery and beating. Well, if it could be called a robbery – the man owned next to nothing. It had happened in plain daylight, at a popular park in the neighborhood. It was a nice neighborhood and one of their nicest parks so he still couldn’t understand why or how a homeless man had ended up on a bench in their park. But he had and according to the witnesses and the phones that had recorded it all, a group of teens had approached the man, taken what little belongings he had, hit him and punched him until he could no longer hold himself up but gravity pulled his limp body to the ground. The teens continued to kick him until blood pooled on the ground around him. At this point they even took the man’s ragged shoes and socks and easily ripped his already thin and torn t-shirt from his chest. With one last kick, they left him there.

The local news had shown it all, from various viewpoints, as they interviewed the by-standers and showed footage from their phones. At least half a dozen people had been close enough to record the scene. One of them, a priest, was a good friend of the professor’s; he had even come in to speak for this particular Old Testament class. Surprisingly, when interviewed last night, the priest had said that this wasn’t the first time he had seen the homeless man. He reported that the same man had shown up at his church the day before, asking for food and money. The priest had given him a list of area shelters and food banks and sent him on his way. But he came back, asking for the same things. This time the priest called the police and he thought the man was gone for good. But obviously he hadn’t gone far.
The professor had listened closely as the interview with the priest continued. He encouraged his congregants and others in the town to give food and clothing to the shelters and food banks that he had originally sent the homeless man to. He was passionate about meeting the needs of those people. The professor smiled as he remembered his friend’s voice rising with emotion as he talked about the need for people to keep these helping organizations stocked. He was a good speaker and the professor was sure there would be people following through even this morning as they went to work. And the priest took it one step further, creating a hashtag they all could remember: #fillthebanks. Checking social media before leaving the house this morning, he saw many of his friends already sharing #fillthebanks with reminders to stop by the food bank with donations. One friend had taken a screenshot of the homeless man on the ground, and made a meme with the new hashtag across it. The professor marveled at its effectiveness. He made a mental note to clean out the pantry that evening to collect a few canned goods for the food bank.
Despite the discomfort he was feeling, the professor soon found himself at the door of his classroom where he vowed to leave all thoughts of the homeless man so he could enjoy these last moments with his students.
The classroom soon filled up and at 9:05, with everyone in their seats except Abdul, the professor thanked the class for their discussions that semester. He wished them well in the rest of their academic journeys and hoped that he’d see them in another of his classes in the future. He wondered about Abdul but by 9:15 decided he had to hand out the exams regardless. The students got right to work.
Abdul rushed in at 9:20 and sat in his usual seat in the front corner. The professor handed him an exam, wondering at Abdul’s disheveled look. This was a young man who, until today, always came to class neatly dressed. He handed Abdul a copy of the exam, and made his way to the front of the room. He sat down, opened his computer, and focused on the academic journal he had pulled up to read.
Five minutes later he was shocked to see an exam being placed beside him on his desk. He looked up in time to see Abdul rushing out the door. Knowing there was no way Abdul could have finished so quickly, he looked down at the paper in front of him.
Abdul had answered just one question, the one which read, “In Deuteronomy 6, Moses continues a charge to the Israelites, reminding them to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ He also charges them to ‘do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you.’ Name a modern-day hero of the faith and tell how this person is living out these commands.’” Beneath the question, Abdul had scribbled the following:

Thank you, Professor, for this class. I have been a Christian for just a few months and took this class because I want to learn as much as I can about the God of the Bible. I am sorry that I did not have time to study last night and that I cannot concentrate this morning. Yesterday I was walking home when I saw a large group of people in the park. I entered the group to find a man on the ground, he had been beaten and kicked. People stood around and did nothing. I ran to the man, and held his head in my lap as he whimpered in pain. He was old and dirty and no one seemed to care. I called 911 and when the paramedics came, I told them that I was family so I could accompany him to the hospital. I sat with him all night and left this morning only so I could come here. I must return. He has no one and needs me. I washed his face and chest, as much as I could with the tubes and wires connected to his body. I talked to him. I sang to him. He smiled and asked me to stay. I did not want to leave. He is sleeping and the doctors say he should be okay. I will return to him and will bring him home to my house when he is able to leave. Again, I am sorry that I cannot finish this exam but I do not want him to wake up alone. Good-bye and thank you for all that I have learned in this class. Your student, Abdul

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