[Hpn] Pastor poses as homeless person to teach lesson in charity (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 18 Dec 2000 09:30:37 -0800 (PST)


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FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 16, 2000

     PASTOR GOES UNDERCOVER TO TEACH LESSON IN CHARITY

YORK, Pa. (AP) _ A church pastor came up with an unusual way of
teaching about loving thy neighbor: He dressed up as a homeless
man, wrapped himself in a ratty blanket, and waited.

The Rev. Brandon Testerman of Zion United Methodist Church of
Freysville said he recently spent about 11/2 hours at the Windsor
Township intersection of Freysville and Windsor roads, where three
churches were holding services.

``I sat on my cardboard with an old wool hat pulled down, big
glasses taped together and a dirty, oily checkered towel wrapped
around my neck,'' Testerman said. ``Three hundred cars passed me _
before I stopped counting _ and only two stopped.''

The first driver asked if he needed a blanket. At that point, he
explained himself. The second driver's wife made him turn around
and come back to ask if the man was all right, Testerman said.

``As my parishioners were coming into Sunday school, six walked
over and invited me in to church,'' the pastor said. ``I pulled my
scarf down and said, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant,' and
asked them not to reveal me to the others.''

The pastor's wife Beth added, ``I never dreamed he would fool
anyone.''

Jason Martin saw the man with his cart hunched down on the
cardboard with his brown bag and bottle. He went into the church,
turned around and walked back out to check on the raggedy man.

``Sir, are you all right?'' Martin asked.

``He went for his bottle, and I jumped back. Then, he looked up
at me, and in a split second, I realized who he was.''

Some of the people indoors were upset to see an apparently
homeless person on their property, Martin said.

Then a lay person opened the church service when the
``homeless'' man walked down the aisle with his shopping cart.

``We are fortunate to have him as a pastor,'' Martin said
Thursday. ``He brings us contemporary issues in a unique way. Some
people were afraid. We are not supposed to worry about that. Our
master and maker will take care of us when we are doing his work.''

Testerman said he learned as much as his 60-member congregation.

``Many people were upset and in tears by this person outside,
but they could not do anything about it,'' Testerman said. ``That's
what I wanted to see. We get so caught up in our gifts and
decorations that Christmas passes us by.''

AP-ES-12-16-00 1525EST
Received  Id AP10035149DC497A on Dec 16 2000 14:26

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