It was a simple prayer. One that didn’t go unnoticed.
"Dear Jesus," the little boy’s voice rose to ensure God could hear him above the café noise, "thank you for this food ... and bless everyone," J.D. added.
Nearby, a patron watched the family of four and listened to the unabashed petition from the five year-old.
“I wanted to stop by your table,” the middle-age woman commented as she paused in route to the exit, “and let you know how nice it is to see a family saying the blessing.”
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With smiles and a good-bye all around, their eyes followed the stylish lady to the doorway just as a youthful couple entered, their faded jeans and worn backpacks in sharp contrast. But after pausing for a quick study of the overhead menu, the pair retreated, their sleeping bags and camp gear waiting curbside.
It wasn’t until the family’s leftovers had been boxed and bellies were full, that J.D’s mom again noticed the “30-something” couple outside, their hands extended. Customer after customer shook their head "no" in answer to their plea, moving hurriedly toward their parked cars.
Something in the weary travelers’ demeanor — and the thought of someone being truly hungry — tugged at the mom’s heart.
“Honey,” she said as she turned to her husband, explaining what she’d observed, “we need to feed them, if we can.”
Without a second thought, the father went to the counter, paid for a generous meal and then asked the ragged duo to come inside. Before the job-seeking hitchhikers had left the counter, the eatery’s staff had added even more food items — free of charge.
For J.D and his brother, it was an opportunity to see faith in action, that asking God to “bless everyone” may mean our helping those in need; a responsibility to be an agent of God’s love.
But the lesson doesn’t end here.
About a week or so later, the close-knit family chose another restaurant for their evening out together. Before the meal was over, a wizened stranger insisted upon paying for their dinner.
The unexpected kindness felt to them like a gift straight from heaven. A reminder that their earlier act of compassion hadn’t gone unnoticed — nor a little boy’s prayer to “bless everyone.”
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35 (NIV)