Hindus, Highways and Rainbow Stew

12 07 2020

It was 1981 and we had been in Indiana for several years since our move from Ohio. Rock _nCathy and our daughter, Jamie, our only child at that time, were going back there to visit her parents. Seeing we only had one car I had to take them there and then return the next day. I remember that Sunday drive as being extremely warm and was thankful for the A.C. in the car. Outside of Fort Wayne on Rt. 24, I saw a rather unusual looking character, at least for this part of the world. Here was an elderly man dressed in a robe looking garment held closed with a cloth belt or sash, carrying a rather ratty looking bag with a strap. As I passed him, I thought he much be miserable out there with the heat index hovering around the 100 range. Up the road a little way, I pulled into a gas station to fill up. When I came out of the station from paying; I once again saw this odd-looking sojourner as he passed in front of where I was still progressing slowly down the highway west. Pulling up beside him, I offered a ride. With a gentle smile he happily got in. Noticing the red dot on his forehead told me he was Hindu. With curiosity teeming, I asked this gentleman what his story was. Well, he was from India and had come to the U.S. to visit friends and see America. His time here had been wonderful, perhaps a little too much for he had overstayed his visa to a point he thought he might be in trouble. He had traveled mostly by bus and had planned to stay with some friends in the Cleveland area when he realized his dilemma. Another friend in Chicago told him he could help him; but couldn’t come there since he did not have a license. So, this Easterner started walking. Afterall, this was how he got around most his life. He had received numerous rides that he was thankful for, but had been walking several hours when our paths crossed and I could see he rather spent. As we rode along, we made small talk about our lives, and our beliefs. This wasn’t a time of either of us trying to convince the other our views were the right one; more of time of understanding each other’s position. And we enjoyed our time together. I had the radio on low tuned to a country station when my friend began listening intently to the number that was playing. “What is Bubble Up, and Rainbow Stew and would this be wonderful if it was free?” Okay, you lovers of Country music will recognize this as a song written and performed by Merle Haggard, and I had to chuckle. The concept of songs that didn’t make sense and that it was only meant as fun was new and a bit confusing to my new friend, and I struggled to explain the reason why. I turned off the radio, but he liked it and asked if it would turn in back on. So, we tooled down the road kind of shucking and jiving to George Jones, Johnny Lee and Willie Nelson. Gotta love it!

We neared Warsaw/Winona Lake and I told him this is as far as I go, but I would like to buy him a meal or even come to my home to rest for a while. Graciously he declined, wanting to stay on the highway and hopefully get another ride for the final 2 ½ hours to Chicago. So, we went our separate ways there on Highway 30. When I got home, I unloaded the car and settled in to relax before I had to go to work that night. Still, I couldn’t get this man out of my mind. I kept thinking of our time together and how it was so blessed hot out there. After an hour of hearing in my mind, “Sure is hot out there, but hey, don’t give a thought that you let him out on the road and drove away!” Jumping up I went to the refrigerator, grabbed some grapes, poured some orange juice into a large travel mug, put some ice water in a jug and picked up some bananas from the counter and put them in the car along with my guitar in the trunk. (Yes, I used to go everywhere my guitar. Work with me here!) Reaching U.S. 30, I decided to drive ten miles west; if he hadn’t got another ride, he couldn’t made it any father than that. It was within two miles I caught up with him; and my friend was very glad to see me. I gave him what I brought; he ate all the grapes, two bananas, drank all the juice and about half the jug of water. Oh yeah, he had been on the road a long time that day! I urged him to put the seat back and rest, to which he obliged for an hour. When he awoke, we took up where we left earlier, just as if we had been old friends for years, talking, laughing, and listening to Country; even sang along a little, especially when we heard “Free Bubble Up and Rainbow Stew.”

Reaching Chicago was easy; finding the address was another story. This was before cell phones and GPS, so it took another two hours of hunting and getting lost before we found his friend. Before I dropped him off, he must have thanked me a dozen times. He then said, “My God’s blessing be upon you.” For the first time I felt words come to me. “Well, my friend, my Lord has blessed me; He put you in my path today because you had a need, and I can always use another friend. It has been a delight; I thank God He brought us together.” Smiling he then said “Free Bubble Up.” To which I responded “Rainbow Stew.” As I drove off, I could see him in my rearview mirror, he had his hands together, bowing slightly and saying some words in my direction, still with the same smile I had come to enjoy.

Max Lucado has a saying I think of often, “None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone. And when we help them, we serve Jesus. Who would want to miss a chance to do that?” I am convinced that God put this man in my path not so that I could evangelize him, but because He saw someone with a need, and He had one of His followers close enough to meet that need. Always and often our actions will tell someone God loves them more than our words will.

Matthew 25:35-40  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

“Lord, thank you for allowing me to serve you, by serving another.”

Well, of course, I never saw this Hindu, Country music loving “Traveler of the Rock Road” after that day. I can only pray others showed him kindness, in Jesus name.

As for getting back in time to go to work, well I knew I was going to be late now so might as well make the best of it. Driving down Lake Shore Drive there in Chicago, I came across a big beautiful park where many folks were out enjoying the early evening. I found a place to park, took my guitar and sat under a tree and strummed a few songs. An older man with a mandolin came over and asked if I could play Bluegrass style. Whoa! Let’s do this! And for the next hour I played rhythm and he burned up that mandolin picking some old songs I was familiar with. What an awesome day! Thank you, Lord for all the Blessings!

See ya next time.









4 responses

12 07 2020

What a great story! I normally scroll quickly through longer posts—speed reading—but not this one.

I think it’s wonderful how God allowed you to SHOW your Hindu friend the gospel in action, not just words.

12 07 2020

Thank you David,
Blessings to you and your loved ones.


10 08 2020

I think I was meant to ‘meet’ you today. Thank you for a simple reminder to be kind to others through this lovely story.

11 08 2020

Thank you for your kind words.
Blessings to you and your loved ones.

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