A couple of months ago the CBS Evening News reporter Steve Hartman did a docuseries report titled “On The Road“. One of the stories covered was a human interest story about a man named Michael Swain, who was and is making an investment in his community by simply volunteering his services to repair torn and tattered items that many of the homeless and less fortunate in the community have. Even greater is that he does all this without the expectation of any gratuity. It’s his way of paying it forward, even if he doesn’t call it that.
What was especially of interest to me was the fact that this man was utilizing an antique sewing machine that he had rescued from the side of a curb. In watching the tale of this man who is simply putting to use his natural talents and resources, I found a message within the message.
This college instructor had found a way to “mend” things in his community where most people only saw brokenness. However, as he shared why he does what he does and what motivated him to start his fifteen year mission to do it, you soon realize that he saw a way to, in part, be a human instrument to heal or fix what has been ailing that broken community. He saw life, while others saw death. He saw possibilities, while others saw only problems. He saw hope, where many saw only despair.
From my vantage point, what was truly the greatest factor in all of this was his use of this antique sewing machine. This sewing machine which had been cast aside was the object of conversation which got people talking. As conversation starters go, this conversation piece was one whereby Michael could learn about the people he helped, engender meaningful dialog that led to them not only finding common ground, but also discovering that it wasn’t just what they brought to him that needed a bit of mending.
Conversation pieces are door openers and ice breakers that get the ball rolling and generate intrigue and interest. Think of the well where Jesus met the Samaritan woman. Although it wasn’t his well or hers, it was the point of interest that became the doorway to him reaching her and delivering her from her situation.
As disciples, we are called to disciple others. One way in which this is accomplished is in through simple and little things where we engender a commonality with those we come into contact with. Paul the apostle said he became all things that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Everyone has something that can be that conversation piece that opens the door to healing and mending of hearts, relationships, and so many other things that are often tattered and frayed. It’s just a matter of seeing with new eyes to the possibilities in the things you already have.
QUESTION: What is it that you have, that seems so ordinary and so simple, yet it can be a conversation piece and the catalyst for you to win others over?
- ‘CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley’ Posts Largest Year-to-Year Viewer Increase Among Network News Broadcasts for the Week Ending July 17 (tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com)