This story was originally posted on the website. It was then suggested to Truth Book by Linda Sepp. After having read David Wilkerson’s “The Cross and the Switchblade,” I am persuaded that something like this can happen.

When Julio Diaz stepped off the New York City subway platform after work one night, he was simply planning to walk over to his favorite local diner for a meal. But when a teenage boy approached him with a knife blade gleaming in his fist, Diaz, a 31-year-old social worker, knew the evening was about to take a more dramatic turn.

The young man demanded Diaz’s wallet, and Diaz handed it over without objection. But just as his young mugger turned to walk away, Diaz called after him: “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something.” The mugger turned around, surprised. “If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The teenager looked at Diaz in disbelief and asked why he would do such a thing. Diaz replied, “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for ten to fifteen years for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money.” He told the young man that he’d just been heading out for dinner and that he would be happy for some company.

Diaz told the surprised NPR StoryCorps reporter, “You know, I just felt maybe he really need help more than the money.” Diaz told NPR’s StoryCorps. What did the boy do, asked the reporter? He decided to take me up on my offer, and they headed into Diaz’s favorite local hangout together. As they were sitting at the table, the manager, the dishwashers, and the waiters all came over to say hello to Diaz, and the young man was amazed at Diaz’s popularity. “You’re even nice to the dishwasher,” the boy exclaimed!

“Weren’t you taught that you should be nice to everybody?” Diaz asked him. “Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teenager replied. Thanks to Diaz, he was beginning to see that kindness wasn’t such a strange phenomenon, after all.

When the bill came, Diaz told the teen that he’d have to get the check. After all, he still had Diaz’s wallet. But the teenager slid the wallet back across the table without a moment’s thought, and Diaz treated him to dinner. Diaz also gave the would-be mugger a $20 bill to take with him – in exchange for the young man’s knife. “I figured, said Diaz, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. “It’s a very simple thing to do in this complicated world.”

After watching the news every night and seeing multiple reports of muggers and purse-snatchers commit their heartless and senseless crimes, if there were such a young man out there who really was looking for acceptance and kindness, they must be far and few between. But there’s always that one in a million chance there may be one. So, we must decide whether it’s worth taking the risk, as we hand over our wallet and cell phone, etc., to ask a would-be mugger if they know there are Christians in this world that would love to help them and keep them out of jail. Jesus did it for the thief on the cross, maybe if we’re confronted, we can do what Jesus did.

But it doesn’t have to be a knife-wielding mugger or some petty thief, there are those who are acting out of desperation and need. And there is no greater need in this world than the need to know Jesus and have Him in your life. So when we see someone who seems to have lost all hope of gaining a better life and get out of poverty or improve their situation, they too need someone to tell them as Christians they are not only interested in their own prosperity, but to fulfill the Scriptures in helping those with spiritual needs as well as material needs. Just a hand on their shoulder and hearing the words, “Did you know that Jesus loves you?” may be the thing that changes their lives. There’s no need in going out and searching for such persons, the Holy Spirit will bring them across your path. If the Holy Spirit is not ready to deal with them yet, then neither should you.  – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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