There are still nice people in the world

Published 10:49 am Friday, July 6, 2018

by Charles Qualls

All last week, we hosted a group of youth from the First Baptist Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Like those from so many churches, these teens go somewhere every year for a week during their summer and help out.

This time, we had the pleasure of hosting them in our fellowship hall. There, they slept on air mattresses and cots. Not exactly a luxury arrangement. But, they were game for the experience.

Fact is, many of us from churches have done the same thing at different times. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for five years I took volunteers out to one neighborhood in the Biloxi area to help rebuild houses. We slept in Sunday School classrooms each time in the same church.

Time was, the affluent and self-sufficient folks of Franklin wouldn’t have thought of having a church from outside come in with a “mission team” to help out. These days, though, the Franklin Cooperative Ministry was able to direct the team toward clients and points of need in our community. What Margaret Anne Smith and crew do in our city is so vital.

For two days, they fixed up the house and grounds for a woman who is battling cancer. Her son is not well, either. The place needed extensive woodwork repair and a good trim repainting. Her outside steps were dangerous, and the group replaced boards for her. The lawn was overgrown and the flower beds were needing to be reworked. For two days, kids mowed and raked.They hammered and painted. They weeded and replanted. Her house looked like a different home when they were finished.

She said, “I sure am glad that this reminded me there are still nice people in the world!”

Thing is, she had insisted on feeding the whole group both days. It was the one thing she had to offer. They marveled at how good her meals were.

They said of her, “We were glad we could help out. She was so sweet. She was a good person!” 

They weren’t nearly done though.

The inimitable Frank Davis also had them in to work some at the MLK Center. There, they did the unglamorous work of weeding playgrounds and tidying up around the building. They played with the children there and got to know participants. Everyone had such a good time, though the day was hot. The playground especially looked so inviting and good when they finished.

Frank’s comments echoed the theme of how these teenagers reminded him that there are still good people in today’s world.

Another group of them went that same day over to work at a Cooperative Ministries client home for a little while. Later in the week, this same group finished up their week downtown here in Franklin. Cooperative Ministries’ own clothing distribution center needed some cleanup. Outside and in, these teenagers went to work.

Of course, at different points of the week, our people at Franklin Baptist also gave these visitors some welcomed hospitality. Steve Gibson from our staff, along with volunteers, cooked breakfast for the Goldsboro group on Monday. Our own teens and adults cooked dinner for them on Monday, then worked outside with them the next day. Elizabeth and I hosted them at our house for a cookout and some time in our backyard on Tuesday night. Our church treated them to dinner one other time as well.

The Goldsboro group left town saying, “We couldn’t believe how hospitable the folks in Franklin are. Everyone was so nice to us as strangers, everywhere we went.” 

Do you hear the theme? It would seem that everyone had a similar experience that week. Goldsboro and Franklin folks alike. Yet, everyone seemed to be so pleasantly surprised.

“There are still nice people in the world.” 

A couple of questions arise. Why are we so surprised? Why do we need a group to come in from outside to make us so aware of that? 

Not every world problem will be solved by us just being nice to each other. Then again, even the Pharisee quoted in a recent column answered Jesus correctly when he said, “…love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our Lord said in John 13: 34-35, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Maybe we ought to try surprising each other a little more often. It just might make our world a better place to be.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.