RELIGION: “Rapping Russians and Other Oddities”

BY RODNEY TILLEY
Pastor, Van Horn Community Church

I used to live in the inner city, in the worst possible scenario, in the ghetto land of despair. 

However, contrary to the news media’s constant attempt to stereotype all those that lived there, I found that many interesting and fascinating people were living there and were adding to the cultural mix not found in too many other places. 

In our church we had the young Albanian immigrant worshiping with the 3rd generation Irish, all eating at the Greek restaurant, and shopping at “Hippie Chicks” boutique. 

My youth pastor was a Russian, who while attempting to be ghetto with baggy pants and shaved head, started talking like “Rocky” and drove his 1978 Omni while lying down. The first time he “rapped” a Christian song in church, an 86- yearold parishioner replied, “That is rubbish” but I assured him it was singing and I told him it may have been Russian, but I was not sure.

But there were others: The cocaine addicted barber and the Moroccan taxi driver who did not know how to read a map and was always taking customers on a no charge tour of the city. 

There was the Anglo engineer who chastised me in church for calling the youngsters in church “kids” when I should have spoken of them as “children,” giving them the respect that was due. He also tore apart every sermon I ever gave. 

But there was one lady in particular who always caught my attention for she sat on a box next to our church and upon walking by her she would greet me angrily with her favorite phrase, “Drop dead.” 

I guess she must have greeted me every day for 5 years with a good morning, “Drop dead.” I would return the greeting with a “God bless you too,” and continue to go on my way. She sat on the same box with the same dress and said the same thing, never changing her tune.

I said to the church, “we have got to do something for this lady to get her to change her tune,” so after every church dinner and after every church social, we would fix her a box lunch or a hot cup of coffee and give it to her and she would accept it angrily with hesitations.  

I came to learn her history and I guess she had a reason to be angry for she had been in a Jewish concentration camp in WWII and she had her number tattooed on her arm to prove it. 

But one day, something changed, for as I passed she looked up at me and smiled and said, “God Bless You,” and she continued to do that until the day she died. I tried but never did get a conversation out of her, but I did get a “God Bless” every morning, and that was a miracle in itself. 

You see, the Bible says in Matthew 10:42 that if we just give a cup of water in the name of the Lord, great things will happen and it really did in this case.
 
I guess it was those boxed lunches and those cold soft drinks that softened her heart and she died a happy lady knowing that someone did care. 

So give the microphone to the rapping Russian, and a boxed lunch to a Jewish lady, and a good morning to the Greek pizza man, and do it all in the name of the Lord. 

For more information on the good things of God, call Pastor Tilley at 432-207-0015.