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August 2019


"Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." (Romans 15:7)

Dear friends,

The doorbell rang. It was way too early for anything but some sort of emergency. A fire truck was outside and a Con Ed emergency van with blinking lights did little to allay my fears. A husky black guy with his safety helmet fastened tightly said to me: “We have a gas leak on the street and we need to get into your basement.” Fortunately our house was safe, but for the next three weeks, our street was torn up as jack hammers flayed, trucks hauled debris and wreckage, and machines dug a 30 yard hole and replaced gas pipes for the entire block. It was unnerving to say the least, especially if your son is a fireman who was in a huge fire last winter that was caused by a gas leak.

During these disruptive weeks, I was sitting on my door stoop observing the construction and enjoying my morning coffee. The same Con Ed guy approached me and asked to use our bathroom. We started talking about our kids, what we do, and he mentioned his son was graduating from St. John’s boarding school in Wisconsin (where I happened to have been a camp counselor in the 1960s).

His son was trying to find a small college in the Midwest. Wouldn’t you know pal, Jeff Bullock, is the president of the growing University of Dubuque in my hometown of Iowa. The Con Ed’s guy’s son, Denzel, wants to continue his football career and, yes, the U of D has a thriving football team. So I made a phone call and sent emails, an application was accepted, scholarships/aid was granted, and now Denzel is on his way to Iowa. (By the time you get this letter, Denzel will be at football camp.)

A “chance” meeting can change the life of a person, or perhaps even our own lives. It was a chance meeting when I walked out of a monastery on a cold December night in 1973 and Father Mathias “happened” to see me and approach me: “Hey, you look interesting what are you all about?” It was a chance encounter which led to my life in Christ.

Somehow if we are in-tune to the Lord, then chance meetings can have extraordinary results. The life of Christ is filled with these types of meetings--the woman at the well, a blind beggar, a women caught in adultery, a tax collector looking for more than money, and many more “chance” meetings that dot the landscape of Jesus’s life. Maybe if we are keenly alert to those who randomly come into our lives, we might be able to serve and love them with unexpectedly wonderful outcomes. We never know.

The rest of the story: I further discovered that Denzel’s dad, Chris (my new Con Ed friend), has run a youth ministry in Harlem for years. Hundreds of kids have come through his program, but many worthy young people have lost an opportunity for college due to their lack of financial resources. Next month, Chris and the leaders at the University of Dubuque will be sitting down and talking about how to help these kids from underserved areas get a college education.

Hey, who is knocking at your door?

Thank you for caring enough to support our work, now for 40 years.

B.J. Weber


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