Recently, my family had the privilege of housing a complete stranger for the night. (Side note: He looks A LOT like Ben Kingsly – more the young Ghandi version and less Ironman, though. Click here for the comparison.)
This is becoming a more frequent occurrence in the Chesney household as we have come to discover how much more exciting our lives can be when we invite others in to share their lives with us.
The stranger’s name was Michael Schwebach (yes, I made sure to ask how to pronounce it before completely butchering the last name) and he came to us through Facebook…in a way. You see my wife has been following this pro-life organization called Save the Storks through their Facebook page ever since she read an article about what they do in D-Magazine.
If you have ever had a conversation with her on adoption, foster care, Planned Parenthood, pregnancy resource centers or merely babies in general, you know how passionate she is about the rights of unborn babies and voiceless children struggling to survive in situations beyond their control. It’s the kind of fire that blazes through those closest to her and I have been no exception.
So, when she found out Save the Storks was going to be coming through our area and stopping in various locations to display one of their new mobile pregnancy resource centers, she jumped at the opportunity to see one in person. After connecting with one of their coordinators, we were told the van could actually come right to our house before visiting a local church that Wednesday evening.
It sounded great to us and we were excited to check out this piece of life-discovering technology in our very own driveway. After inquiring and being told the driver actually did not have a place to stay, we offered our spare room for the evening and Becky began to inform her avid pro-lifers of the incoming visit.
When I first met Michael, I was initially a little perplexed as to why I was NOT seeing a college kid on summer break driving around this $130,000 answer to desperate, expectant mothers instead of this older gentleman with sport sandals, cargo shorts, wire-rimmed glasses and a Save the Storks t-shirt to top off the ensemble.
Of course, for me, someone who is intensely interested in a person’s “story”, this became exponentially more fascinating as I now was able to pepper him with all sorts of deeply personal, prying questions in order to discover how he came to be a driver for this pro-life, non-profit organization.
Just to be clear, our initial interest was in the van and he patiently detailed for us all of the amazing features and capabilities it had to not only administer sonograms and pregnancy tests, but to immediately send those results to a physician’s office and comfortably provide visual and auditory evidence of the life growing inside each mother while sharing the gospel and offering counseling at the same time. It’s an amazing resource (and it was pretty cool to see a Mercedes of any type parked in my driveway) but, for me, the novelty quickly faded and my interest turned away from the tool and toward the one helping others to use it.
As our questions for Michael shifted from generally casual to more personal, I was pleased to find a man happy to share his life with strangers turned new friends. We learned of his time in the Navy, the many abilities he has related to construction and operating heavy machinery (driving included obviously), how God is working in his family, past mission experiences in Japan and ultimately his heart for the call Save the Storks has undertaken to rescue babies from the clutches of death.
We discovered a man excited about what the Lord was doing while completely trusting in God to set up divine appointments and bring favor on each showing of the vehicle. Motivating others to use this resource as a means of actively saving lives of the unborn.
It was refreshing and inspiring for me to see the commitment with which he lives his life (which happens to be littered with as much frustration and pain as the rest of us) while reflecting the heart of the ministry and sharing God’s redeeming love with all they meet.
Fortunately for us, his prior engagement that evening had fallen through and he was able to come with me to church and share with our youth and leaders how the vehicles are used to help pregnant mothers.
I could tell the age group was a little outside his generally audience demographic as he attempted to match the otherworldly level of energy emitted by our youth pastor while he explained the function of the van. I believe the word “awesome” was used about 35 times in his five-minute speech. But honestly, what really hit me how cool it was to see him at a loss for adjectives to describe this machine. Especially after spending the last several weeks basically living in it and driving several thousand miles across the country in the process.
He was still just as amazed and his passion was clearly evident and impactful even without the eloquence (which would have probably been wasted on a group of hyped up teens anyway).
As it is with Michael, my wife and others in my life who have made an impact on me, passion continues to be the common thread weaving its way through their lives and drawing others into its pattern of influence on the world. And while his visit was brief, I will remain thankful for our new friend and seek to maintain my own personal motivations thanks to these life moments like my first encounter with the Storks.