Willow On Wheels, a bicycle and camping group, was going strong at the church during the 90’s. We would meet on a Thursday night and ride our bikes anywhere from 10 to 30 miles through Barrington Hills. We made some great friends during the years WOW was active. As a result, we planned a biking tour to Kentucky. My husband and I and our teenage son, Aaron, lagged a bit behind the group after crossing a hazardous metal bridge from Illinois to Kentucky towards our next night’s destination. Then it happened. Aaron got a flat tire. There were no cell phones then to notify our team that we were stuck in a small town in Kentucky. A man rolled down his window and asked if we needed help. “We need to find a bike store,” I said. “My house is up the road,” he pointed. “Just go in and use my phone.” I was surprised at his friendly gesture. “Help yourself to some water, too,” he said. We made a stop at the local bicycle store only to find out that they did not carry the unique bike tube. They advised us to set up our tent in the city park while we tried to figure out our next move. Up the hill we could hear a party going on. It wasn’t long before they noticed us camped below. “Come on up for a hamburger,” they said. We filled our plates and found out what it was like to live in a small coal mining town where getting a marriage license came before getting a driver’s license.
A young couple asked us if we would prefer sleeping in their living room rather than in our tent. “Thank you— that’s very kind of you,” I said,” but we’ll be fine here.” “But wouldn’t you like to take a shower?” they replied. “Showers,” said Aaron as the sweat rolled off his brow. “Mom! You better say yes.”
This kind family opened their home to us. It was indeed a culture shock. As I closed my eyes and settled into my sleeping bag, I looked around the walls where stuffed turkey vultures and an assortment of other prized animals decorated the walls. I had never seen walls like that in the Midwest. The next day after serving us breakfast, they loaded our bikes in the back of their truck and took us to Paducah, Kentucky where we got the tube for my tire and soon joined the rest of our team. We will always remember the kindness of the Kentucky folks who shared the little that they had with us out of the kindness of their hearts.
These strangers have inspired me to reach out to those in need and to remember the words of Jesus.
“Truly I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” Mark 9:4