John Howard
 
 
The church was overflowing,
People spilling through the doors,
Lights shone through opened windows,
Like a beacon on a shore.

The night was hot and humid,
Not a single breath of air,
Outside it seemed like death itself,
No movement anywhere.

Babies cried, while mamas fanned,
Kids perched on windowsills,
Dads' fresh overalls grew damp,
From perspiration spills.

The church did not have an organ,
A piano had to do,
Sister Emma played with gusto,
As the Spirit moved her to.

The preacher took the pulpit,
The congregation hushed,
Babies stopped their crying.
The kids were told to shush.

"Let us pray," the preacher uttered,
All heads instantly were bowed,
Then, some heavy booted footsteps,
Drew attention from the crowd.

The people raised their heads to see,
Then, they poked each other,
They whispered, and they pointed,
At the man their eyes discovered.

John Howard just looked straight ahead,
Ignoring unkind stares,
He'd only come to hear God's word,
That's the reason he was there.

He was, indeed, a godly man,
Whose hair and skin were black,
People often shamed him so,
He'd take a seat in back.

He could not change his color,
He never knew that it was wrong,
He only knew that he loved God,
And God loved him right along.

He liked to hear the Gospel,
And while the choir sang, he prayed,
Some years back, in this very church,
John Howard had been Saved.

When the services were over,
The people rushed to say good night,
The pastor noticed one lone man,
Had not joined in their flight.

John Howard slowly left the church,
A pathetic, lonely man,
Who pressed a folded paper then,
Into the preacher's hand.

He silently just walked away,
The preacher watched him go,
He wished he'd told John Howard then,
That God did love him so.

The pastor took the folded paper,
To read beneath the light,
A large check had been written,
For the little church that night.

John Howard was the poorest man,
In that whole congregation.
And, yet he was the richest man,
By holy calculation.

The poorest man is oft not poor,
Appearance can deceive,
One needs to get beneath the skin,
To see through what's perceived.

The preacher said a hasty prayer,
As from the church he raced,
"John Howard, please wait up," he called,
Please share with me YOUR grace."

by Virginia (Ginny) Ellis
Copyrighted 1999
Please do not take without permission

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