By Rick Smith
I remember it so vividly! The radio dispatcher assigned a signal 7, which is a death call. I parked the squad car in front of a tumbledown house situated in the slum area of our city. I recall the feeling I had walking into a house burdened with death. Ironically, the burden was felt only by me. Expecting to see loved ones crying or displaying some form of sorrow for the deceased, it amazed me when all I saw was two women, one in her fifties, the other only sixteen, sitting in front of a color television set seemingly enjoying themselves. They actually ignored my presence until, in bewilderment, I asked if I was at the right house. The young girl told me I was and then pointed to a back room. Lying on a bed in that smelly, filthy excuse for a bedroom was the pitiful body of a two month old child. The baby looked deformed; more like a set of bones with skim painted over them, than a human being. The young girl in the other room was the child’s mother. She had allowed her baby to die of starvation, explaining that she did not have enough time to “mess with it.” I placed her under arrest.
As it happens so many times, her case never passed a preliminary court hearing; the manslaughter charge was dismissed on a technicality. The case was closed, the baby is dead and buried, the mother is free, and I am still appalled and sickened at the entire event.
This may sound like a script .from Dragnet; I wish it were. Unfortunately, it was a very real and sad encounter I went through as a police officer in Tampa, Florida, just four years ago. It tore at my heart as I saw that child lying there with the smell of a needless death about it. Yet, I was just as disgusted with the distorted excuse of a mother who sat in the other room being entertained by a television set while her off-spring lay deathly cold from lack of food. Too much trouble to “mess with it,” what an excuse.
I no longer wear a pistol and badge; I now carry the sword of the spirit as my defense. Still, I look back at such experiences and wonder about the many cruel and heartless people with which I have had occasion to come in contact. I cannot fathom the reasoning or motivation behind the heinous acts they perform. But yet another form of cruelty has lifted my eyes, a cruelty far surpassing this mother’s crime.
If her wickedness troubles you as much as it has me, then maybe the following story will really cause you to think! I am told that 100,000 human beings die every 24 hours without ever being told the gospel story of salvation. I understand enough people die every year without hearing God’s plan of redemption to populate the entire United States of America. I read the percentage of people believing in Christ. is decreasing: 1946 –1 in 3; 1964 – 1 in 4; 1984 – 1 in 5? Also, 95 % of the members in the Lord’s church never convert one soul!
If this is true, then we need to ask ourselves a most important question. Why? Why and how can we let our neighbors, our loved ones, our relatives, perhaps even our own children die without telling them the way of the cross? Why do we continue to murder priceless souls by our silence?
The story of the two month old child is nowhere as sad as the story about us, if we are not telling others about Jesus and His saving power. We are holding back spiritual food. In essence, we are starving people to death! That young mother was set free by a judge on a technicality. Do you think our judge, the omniscient Father above, will set us free when someone points the finger on that final day and says, “you never mentioned Him to me?” What technicality can we plead: ignorance, laziness, unconcern, no time to mess with them?
It is time we owned up to our responsibility and great privilege. Let us quit sitting on our padded pews in our fine air-conditioned church buildings, hypocritically singing “Standing; On The Promises,” when in reality we are only “sitting on the premises!” Let us go out into the highways and byways telling the world about our loving Savior who offers redemption thorough His blood. Let us begin by mentioning Christ to some lost soul today . . . lest our soul be lost for neglecting others. Proverbs 11:30 “. . . He That Winneth Souls Is Wise.”
Truth Magazine, XVIII:19, p. 12
March 24, 1974