It was December 1958. A tragic fire at a parochial school in Chicago, Ill., was being reported on the evening news, and one of the teachers was being interviewed. She told of the panic among the children, the suffocating heat and the smoke that blackened the room in daylight. And she told of helping the children out the window and down the ladders, assisted by the firefighters.
Struggling for control, the teacher described how she had climbed through the window and down the ladder, across the roof and down another ladder to the ground.
“I looked up at the windows and the billowing black smoke,” she said. With tears streaming down her face, she continued, “It was then that I saw the one I missed.”
Amid the pressures of today, the increasing global turmoil—the smoke that blackens the room in daylight—we who are Christians must be alert to the needs of others. Is there a letter that we could write? A simple deed of kindness that we should do? An encouraging word to give to someone who is desperate to hear? Time that we ought to take to listen? Is there someone we should invite for a meal or a cup of tea?
We need to be concerned. We need to have compassion. This is not the same as telling others of the Gospel. Opportunities to help others allow us to show genuine love, to earn the right to be heard, so that we can tell them about Jesus Christ. God forbid that the time should ever come when we will have to look back and see “the one we missed.”