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“Farmall Hospitality!” 3 John 1-8 Key verse(s): 5: “Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you.”



I’m a Corvair man! That means that I drive old, forty years or more, cars with air-cooled engines and no shoulder harnesses. Since I’ve been driving these cars since I was sixteen, I’ve grown accustomed to them, even preferring them to all other cars. I don’t collect old cars; I drive them. For some people that would seem a rather risky proposition. When they look at an old car they see forty year old ball joints, pistons, bearings and heater fans. These are things that just have to break sometime and, after forty years, it is likely that it will happen when you least expect it at the most inconvenient time. Their worst fear would be that they would be driving along some lonely back road and “bang!” Now what would you do?


I must admit that the thought sometimes passes my mind as well. I know that my car is old. It was manufactured in 1965 and the steel, rubber, plastic and leather in the car, although remarkably preserved, is well past its prime. However, there is really only one aspect of driving the car that ever bothers me. Since Corvair engines are air-cooled, there is a very critical fan belt that travels from the cooling fan over a pulley and down to the crankshaft. When that belt breaks, the engine will quickly overheat and make driving the car impossible. I have learned over the years to always carry a spare fan belt and the proper tools for removing the old one and installing the new one. I learned this, however, only after suffering just such a breakdown on a very lonely back road with nothing but a very distant farm house in sight.


There I sat and it was getting dark. This was a day long before cell phones and other such “emergency” conveniences. I knew that I couldn’t drive the car for fear that I would overheat the engine and “fry” the valves. That would mean a very expensive and time-consuming engine overhaul. There seems but one course, I would have to walk the mile or so to the farmhouse and ask to call for a tow. I trudged over field and fence and finally arrived at the house. The porch light was on and I could hear the faint din of a television set somewhere back in the recesses of the dimly lit house. I knocked and a stocky man in bib overalls opened the door. Seeing the worried look on my face he surmised quickly that I had some “road trouble” as he called it. I acknowledged his suspicion and told him that I had broken a fan belt and would need a tow. I asked to use his phone to call Triple A. He hesitated for a moment and then did something that I didn’t quite expect. He asked me if I wouldn’t mind if he could tow me up to the barn. He said that he had a wall of belts and one of them was bound to fit. I thanked him but demurred saying that I really wasn’t dressed properly to mess with such a grimy job. “Don’t worry!” he said. “I think I can give you a hand!” He pulled out the old Farmall and we sputtered down the lane toward my stranded car. It wasn’t long and we had it pushed into the barn where in fact he did have nearly every belt imaginable hanging on the wall. Motioning me to stand back and give him room, he quickly extracted the shredded belt and matched it up with one of equal length from his wall. A wrench, screwdriver and crowbar later, the new belt was installed and I was ready to go. I thanked him for his assistance and offered to pay him for the belt. “No.” he said. “But you could come up to the house and have a cup of coffee with me and my wife.” Ultimately, an hour or so later, I was on the road again; a lesson in mechanics and preparedness richer, a coffee stronger, and a heart filled with hospitality.


It is often said that true hospitality is to be able to make your guest feel at home when you wish he were. I am sure that my hosts that evening, their routine rudely interrupted by a stranger at the door, were put out, so to speak. They had become accustomed to watching the same shows on TV and retiring at the same time every night. I am sure that there were evening chores interrupted. Yet, they took the time to give of themselves to someone who was all alone and helpless. I was a stranger and they were “faithful” to a brother just like the Bible asks us to be. For them, hospitality was something that one dutifully performed because, as Christians, they could do nothing less. Unfortunately, it is a brand of hospitality that is becoming rarer and rarer in this increasingly unfriendly and mistrusting world we live in. We live in a society that is individualistic and self-centered; it chafes against the idea that we must be kind to strangers. That’s why it is more important than ever for Christians to take the lead and show hospitality whenever we can. A world such as this leaves a lot of lonely and searching people in its wake. It’s up to us to find them, fix them up and give them a simple cup of Christian kindness.

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