The Cost of One Soul
I first met emergency room physician Tim Riesenberger in Seattle where I was conducting a “Battlefield Hollywood” presentation. He was my ride to the airport after the presentation was finished. I discovered along the way that Dr. Riesenberger has a passion for others, whenever and wherever he is. I remember thinking it odd that he wanted to leave for the airport a few hours before my plane left, but he insisted on leaving room for any possible delays. Little did I know.
On our way to the airport, we saw a motorist stopped by the highway with his head under his car hood. Despite the rain, Dr. Riesenberger quickly pulled over, jumped out of the car, and asked how he could help, chatting with the stranded motorist like they were old friends. After making sure that help was on the way, he handed the stranger a GLOW tract, shook his hand, and got back in the car.
We discussed this act of kindness as we continued our journey to the airport. He told me he never passes a stranger in need, no matter how late it will make him. “It’s the perfect opportunity to share Christ at a time when people are in need and most receptive,” he said.
Soon we came upon another stranded car, this time in the center divider beneath an entangled freeway interchange. Dr. Riesenberger took the next available exit and doubled back, getting lost on the way and zigzagging back and forth in his efforts to reach the point of need.
If there’s anything that ruffles my feathers, it’s getting lost. I nervously glanced at my watch, wondering if I was indeed going to catch my plane. By the time we got back to where we’d seen the broken-down car—about 15 minutes later—it was gone. This didn’t faze Dr. Riesenberger in the least. He simply sighed at the lost opportunity to share Christ.
As I pondered this experience, we came upon a homeless person soliciting money next to a stop sign. Dr. Riesenberger rolled down his window and handed the man a granola bar and a copy of Steps to Christ. “What better way to meet his basic need for food, both temporally and spiritually?” he mused.
Here was someone who spends hours ministering to people in an emergency room, yet gives so generously of his time and resources outside of his responsibilities as a physician. How often I’ve seen people on the side of the road and passed by because I was in a time crunch! It occurred to me that the cost of compassion might result in a missed plane or an extra hour at work, but the payoff might be another soul won for Christ. In the end, the greatest obstacle to ministry might simply be my hurry to accomplish bigger things.