Fred and the Two Pennies

During the summer of 2017, I severed on the Navajo Reservation with Experience Mission’s Internship program. This is one of the encounters that impacted me the most.

I looked out my window and saw a man approaching me on his bike. This wasn’t very uncommon, but something inside me told me to roll down the window. I rolled down the window and he said, “Don’t you remember me?” and then started going off on a story. As the story was about 5 minutes in, I was thinking to myself, “Why did I roll down the window?” At that moment he said, “Do you know God?” To which I replied, “Yes, I do.”

This is where our conversation turned.

He started talking about what God had done in his life and how He has impacted his journey. I sat there and listened to his stories and halfway through something told me that he is hungry. So I said, “Sir, can I give you $5 for food? I’m sorry it’s not more, but it is all I have.” He took the money and I thought our conversation was done. But he got out his wallet that was practically empty and pulled out the only two pennies in his wallet. He then said, “Here are my last two pennies. You gave me all you had. God gives me what I need. So I am going to give you all I have.” I tried to give them back, but he refused.

He gave me the only two pennies he had to his name. How often do we tell God, “Gosh, God…I’d love to give to you but I really don’t have enough.” This encounter with this man reminded me so much of the story of the widow in Mark that gave all she had.

“Sitting across from the temple treasury, He watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins. Summoning His disciples, He said to them, “I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury. For they gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed— all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 HCSB

He never had to give me all he had left. He never had to make that sacrifice, but he wanted to show God’s love. He trusted that although he gave all he had, that God would provide for him.

I got out of the van and asked if I could pray for him. I learned then that his name is Fred. Fred is a homeless man that has his struggles in life, but even at his lowest moment, he was showing Christ’s love. I then asked him what he needed prayer for and all he wanted was for God to wake him up another day and that God would send him food because he hadn’t eaten all day. After we prayed, we ventured inside for him to pick out food. I offered to get him an actual meal, but all he wanted were his favorite snacks that were inexpensive.

Fred taught me an incredibly valuable lesson that night: I should be showing Christ love no matter what season I am in and to give all I have. Not just monetarily, but to give my whole heart to showing Christ’s love and to give my whole heart to serving people, not to just give when it is convenient.

Fred may never remember the random lady in the van he met in the parking lot that night. But I will never forget Fred, the man who gave all he had to a stranger.

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