“Please help me, somebody! Please!”

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Luke 10:30-36

Often I have read the story of the Good Samaritan and thought of it as just that…a story. But after looking closer at this parable Jesus gave to an expert in the law, I have found that Jesus intended to convey something deeper about Himself for us. If you look closely you will see that Jesus used the Samaritan, the most despised in society at that time, to portray His ministry in comparison to that of the religious leaders of His day. Jesus was not one to toot His own horn, so He wrapped something about Himself in the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was moved with compassion and entered our world and bandaged our wounds and so on. Jesus concludes His story with these words to the expert in the law. “Go and do likewise.” And that is what Nadine did with someone at her own front door who was in a similar condition as the man on the side of the road.

Nadine Eareckson’s Neighborhood

One late night at about 2 am I awoke to the doorbell ringing. I got up thinking my mother had forgotten her key. My four children and I live with her. What followed was a pounding at my front door and a woman’s screams. I ran to the front door and peered out the shutters and saw a young woman in distress looking the other way yelling “Please help me, somebody! Please!” The teenager who lives next door is troubled and it wasn’t uncommon to see the police at her place. My immediate thought was that she was in trouble again. There was no question about opening the door to her. But then she turned towards me and I didn’t recognize the bloody face looking my way. You’d think I had seen enough violent movies to be unphased by this scene, but this was the real thing and it sent a chill up my spine.

In the span of a few seconds I realized that this was a stranger and if I chose to open the door, who knows what I would be letting inside. My impulse to help had already taken over and I quickly brought her in, looked around outside to see if other people were there and then locked her inside with me and my family. My unholy thoughts turned to where to let her sit down. I determined she would ruin the sofa with all the blood, so I had her sit on an upholstered chair next to the front door.

She had dark blood coming from a couple of stab wounds on her neck. She wore a short plaid skirt and she had a lot of tattoos for a young girl. I thought of my own daughters and judgment arose. She had obviously been no stranger to late nights without supervision. She cried “I’m bleeding. I don’t want to die!” and I tried to calm her saying “You are safe. I am going to call for help.” The 911 operator had me questioning the girl for details.” Even as frightened as she was, her answers were vague and she avoided saying who was responsible. My mom had awoken and helped me put pressure on the more serious wounds. About six police officers arrived and set to questioning her again, but weren’t getting much more out of her. They removed her shirt to assess the damage and I was surprised at how many more stab wounds she had on her back, wrist, stomach and sides. I really wasn’t needed beyond providing extra towels, but I stayed close and told her I was proud of her and what a brave girl she was. All the while I was asking God if I shouldn’t be doing something more, as if this was the perfect opportunity to use me in some grand act of healing, but I didn’t hear any prompting.

There were so many miracles that evening. First, her life was spared and there were no repercussions to inviting her inside. Secondly, my six and seven year old boys sleep in that same front room with only a room divider separating their space and yet they stayed asleep through the bulk of it, despite the girl’s screaming and the officer’s loudly questioning her. None of us were being particularly quiet. My daughters sleep in the bedroom right next to the front room with a window facing the front of the house. They slept through most of it as well and by the time my oldest had determined she shouldn’t miss this once in a lifetime chance to see what was going on, the paramedics had covered the girl with a sheet so there would be no violent image to haunt her thoughts.

The officers and detectives and forensic people filtered through over the next several hours. One flat out told me I did the wrong thing by letting her in, several others said I was a Good Samaritan and that I saved her life. I learned the girl was 20 years old and in a gang. My mother was a little traumatized by the incident and didn’t like my decision. I took it all in. There was blood splattered all over the front of the door and porch, the floor, walls and yes the upholstery on that chair was ruined. After my mom and I finished off the bottle of hydrogen peroxide cleaning up, I sat in a bath soaking in the fears I had repressed and cried out to God, “What was I thinking? It could have gone so differently. I put my family in danger. Did I do the wrong thing?” I heard God break through my heavy thoughts with, “Remember when you thought it was the neighbor girl? That was me. There wasn’t time for more. I needed you to know it was ok.”

Sometime later an officer told me that the girl finally agreed to testify against the gang members that attacked her and dumped her across the street from my house. Apparently, she had witnessed a murder and they were trying to keep her quiet. A year later I was coming back from a run and there were three young people parked across the street from my house looking at me. It was obvious they were staring so I asked if I could help them and the girl approached. It was her. She wanted to thank me. She said she knew she was given another chance and she was trying to live a better life, but I smelled the alcohol on her and knew she was still finding her way. She showed me her wrist where there was nerve damage from one of the stab wounds, but she was grateful to be alive. I told her again that I was proud of her. She swore that the porch light was on that night and that’s why she chose to head my way even though she was dumped a house or two away from mine. We never leave the light on, but I have no doubt that she saw a light. To be honest, I don’t always want to have my proverbial light on. It’s almost always inconvenient to be available to those that need help, but the reward of knowing I partnered with God for a moment feels pretty amazing.

A time for reflection:

  1. The first responders in Nadine’s story had two different responses to her opening the door to this young woman, one was negative and the others’ response was that she was a Good Samaritan. What would you have said to Nadine if you were involved in the situation?
  2. If you were put in Nadine’s situation, what would you have done and why?
  3. Considering the story of the Good Samaritan, what do you think Jesus was telling the expert in the law to do and how should it impact the way you live with your neighbors?


Listen to Bruce Zachary's experience with Neighborhood Initiative.

Listen to Dallas Willard's word to pastors and leaders about Neighborhood Initiative.

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