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A Bicycle in the Chapel

Major Ed Forster shares his third installment of “Others,” stories highlighting actual events that occurred during more than four decades of officership. by Major Ed Forster

An exquisitely dressed woman walked a shiny new bicycle along the sidewalk in front of our building. My wife and I watched her as she awkwardly put down the kickstand with her high-heeled shoe.

I walked out of our building to greet her. She introduced herself, and we exchanged pleasantries, but she could see I was curious about the new bike.

Finally, she asked, “Could you give this bicycle to a boy who really needs it this Christmas?” You can see that it’s a bike designed to be ridden by a boy.”

“Yes,” I said, as I further surveyed this expensive gift. “We’ll try to find just the right boy for it. Whoever he is, I’m sure he will love it.” 

Responding to my curious expression, she said, “I won it in a drawing at the grand opening of a local supermarket.”

“That’s wonderful. We appreciate your generosity.”

Almost apologetically she said, “I’m not married, and I don’t have a nephew.”

My wife, who had joined us, helped me thank her. After saying our good-byes, we wheeled the bicycle into our building.

When we got the bike up the stairs and into our front lobby, I was called away to the phone.  My wife put the bike away in what she later told me was, “A nice, safe, out-of-the-way place.” 

I laughed when she told me she’d put the bicycle in the chapel. It seemed an odd place for a bike.

“Every other room in this building is filled with food, clothing or toys we will soon be giving out,” she said. “Hundreds of people will be coming to us for Christmas help in the next few days.”

At that moment, the problem of knowing just who the “right boy” for the bike would be first occurred to me.

I asked my wife, “What are we going to do? In all the years of doing this kind of work at Christmas, we’ve never had a brand-new bicycle to give away. How will we know who should get it?”

“Let the Lord decide,” she said. 

The Bible story of Solomon came to my mind. He had to decide which of two women was the mother of a baby they had brought to him. His was a much more serious decision, but he only had two people involved in his great dilemma. We were faced with hundreds of potential bike owners and knowing how to decide who the “right boy” was would be difficult.

“No one knows we have a new bike to give away,” my wife said. “We’ll just wait for the person who needs one most to make it known to us.”

I agreed in principle, but I had a hard time envisioning how we would know which of the boys, from the many families we’d serve, would be the one with the “most need.”

In the next few days before Christmas, as we gave out bags of food and warm winter clothing, and especially as we walked through our toy shop where parents chose toys for their children, I began to doubt our plan. No one had mentioned a bicycle. Who would ask for something they couldn’t see?

On the last afternoon of our distribution, a woman from one of our rural districts came into the toy shop. She thanked us for the warm clothing we’d  given her son, and she told us how much he would appreciate the items because he had to walk a long way to school each day. 

God had answered our silent prayer. Here was the right boy for the bicycle. “Could your son use a bike to ride to school?” my wife and I asked almost simultaneously.

“He’d love one,” the woman said, “but we can’t afford one right now.”

“Please bring your car around to the side door of our chapel,” I said. “We’ll meet you there in just a few minutes.”

The joy and relief on that mother’s face, as we loaded the new bike into her car’s trunk, was a confirmation that we had made the right decision. Her son had the most need for this special gift. He was the “right boy” we had been looking for since this precious donation had come our way.

God met that boy’s need with the bicycle in our chapel. It proved to us, once again, that even in what some people might consider a “small thing,” God moves in a mighty, mysterious way.

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