I will call him Alfred, though he will know his name when he reads this. A man, broken but bent on being a blessing. Motivated by an unswerving love. Desiring the successes of dreams and promulgating a capacity one could only measure from a distance. When Alfred stepped into the room, people would have quivered. We did. But when he opened his mouth fear had no voice and no legs. Replaced by love, fear had retreated to a place far, far away.
The red swastika signalling the confusion of times past… fear, determination to instil in the onlooker some of the pain he must have felt inside, at one point. If that didn't cut it the other tattoos would, high above the neck for all to see. A man on a mission. 'Stay out of my way!' the marks on the skin warned. But Alfred's face read differently and therein lay the confusion.
His eyes danced from mine to the walls and back to mine, as if uncertain of their purpose. He had experienced the cruelty of the passing glance, the judgemental flicker that indicated to the crew that they'd better not bother looking and just keep their eyes down. As he tried to take me in now, his eyes let him down but in his heart he deeply wanted to. ‘Alfred,’ he said, ‘I’m here alone today. Me offsider's off sick see. You don’t have to, but if you wanted to get it done quicker maybe you could grab a trolley!’
I would later find out that Alfred's offsider was his son, ten years his younger. 'The golden boy', he called him. 'He usually helps me out see…' Alfred told me all about his days driving with his son in the truck. 'I buy him his lunch and pay for the fuel. I want him to save his money see? I get paid $20 an hour. They wanted to give him $18 but I told them to give him the extra dollar so we'd get the same wage. He's a special kid!' As he told me about his life my heart was pried open.
'We lost a son last year…' hecontinued. 'Moved down from up north after that. We're renting a place out West, me, the Mrs and three kids. The golden boy's the eldest. He's a good boy. Life's hard being on call 24/7 but you got to make a go of it eh?' 'Absolutely!' I thought, realising I had little idea of what he was talking about.
As we drove along in the truck, Eminem pumped his f-ing glory. Anger saturated the air, but somehow we both refracted it. An excitement welled up within me, emotions I couldn't identify except to say that my heart felt light and jovial. 'I love you too!' Alfred told his partner on the phone, ‘I'm at work! I have to go.' He put down the phone and turned to me. 'She's driving back up North today,' he said. 'She can drive all the way up there without batting an eyelid!' I saw a simple love in Alfred; that same love that puts a ring on his son’s finger when he comes home from squandering his inheritance.
'What d’you do?' he asked.
'I'm a teacher.' I replied.
'Oh mate that's awesome! Can't beat a good education!'
A moment that passes you by
Have you ever had that feeling that a moment would pass you by? That if you looked out the window for a second you'd turn round and the moment would have vanished forever? That's how I felt. All too often God sets us up with situations that are under our control, contrary to what we sometimes think. Love is but a word; healing, a touch; worth, a proclamation; friendship, an investment. There is a cost but there is also profit, a cost worth relinquishing.
When we pulled up at the storage chambers I jumped out ahead of Alfred. While he untied the furniture and backed up the truck I consulted the others; agreement.
'Here you go mate!' I said, 'we'd like to give you a little bit extra. Buy lunch for you and your kid this week.' The blue in his eyes glistened.
'Thank you.' He looked at us intently and hesitated. 'I, I gave my life over to The Lord a few months back,' he said…
I wrote this with a dual purpose in mind. First, Alfred. You're a good man. I pray that you're happy and well and that your family is being provided for and nurtured as you so clearly intend for them. Persist in searching for the God encounters in life. Reach out as you have been. Open your heart and watch how God fills you up!
In the second instance, I write to my friends. Look around! How many Alfreds do we pass each day and never know, never imagine they could comprehend Jesus? How many sideways glances do we offer, wondering how they could possibly be saved?
I met Alfred. He can be saved. He is saved. There is a world to reach. What is holding us back?
David Luschwitz is a teacher in Walgett western New South Wales.
To read more of David's writing and to hear his story head to www.davidluschwitz.com
To follow David's ministry, Like David Luschwitz Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/davidluschwitzblog
David Luschwitz previous articles may be viewed at