george_hancockstefanA couple of weeks ago, I dropped my youngest daughter off at school. On the way back home I saw a middle age lady running towards the bus station. I knew that she was not a jogger – she had her two bags and her coat. I pulled up slowly by her side and asked her if she would like to get a ride for the next few blocks. She looked at me hesitatingly, thanked me for stopping and told me that she will continue her run

That event made me think of all sorts of trust issues. In the early seventies, I spent one summer hitchhiking through Europe with many of my college friends. Using the Euro Rail passes and our hitchhiking fingers, we saw the beauty of the European mountains, lakes and valleys.  We traveled in Fiats, Mercedes, trucks, and any vehicle that move.

I was thinking that I should have told the woman that I was a pastor and she could trust me. Then I thought that was probably not such a good idea because we as pastors collectively are not as trusted as we have been before.  Saying that one was a pastor or wearing a priestly collar used to imply an immediate trust, but that has disappeared.

I was also thinking that if my daughter was late for a bus, I would have not been pleased if she got a ride from a complete stranger.  My father’s heart said that I would have been very displeased and worried.

Yet, hospitality and strangers are so often mentioned in the Bible. Providing hospitality for strangers was a part of the nation of Israel. The author of Hebrews tells us that some have even received angels unaware. (Hebrews 13:2)


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When I travel on First Avenue, I am surprised at how often people, especially the young ones, lower their eyes to the ground when they pass other people. I have an instinct to greet a person when I pass by them because greeting them recognizes the dignity that we have as human beings. Therefore, I constantly greet people and find that the majority respond to my greeting with a smile.

My wife has a wonderful story from when we lived in the Chicago Area. Her car veered into a snow bank and she was stuck.  Within a couple of minutes two guys stopped by. She was hesitant and a little bit afraid because they looked pretty rough. They greeted her, got her car out of the snow bank and as they were leaving they said to her, “May God bless you today.”

We need to regain our trust in one another and accept the fact that most of us are willing to help one another. Some of us do it because God commanded us to do it; some of us to do it because we have been raised that way; some of us do it because we want to help our fellow human being.  Let us work to re-establish that trust with our kids, young people and everyone else.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...