Advent Story

From FB:

Jennifer Foster of Florence, AZ was visiting Times Square with her husband Nov. 14 when they saw a shoeless man asking for change. She writes, “Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, ‘I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let’s put them on and take care of you.’ The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching*. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer’s name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared.”

Our thanks to the Fosters for their attention and appreciation, and especially to this officer, who remains anonymous.

On Thursday, the police officer’s identity was revealed: He’s Larry DePrimo, 25.

The two-year veteran of the department explained he was on patrol in Times Square on the frigid night of November 14 when he came across a man in bare feet with “blisters … about the size of my hands.”

“My heart went out to this man,” DePrimo told CNN. “I just went toward him and asked him if he wanted a pair of socks. But he said, ‘No, and God bless you for asking.’ ”

The officer said he had one word to describe the man’s gracious words: “inspiring.”

Inspired himself, DePrimo headed to a nearby Skechers’ store and  after asking the man his shoe size  bought winter boots. The store’s staff figured out was going on and gave DePrimo an employee discount to help “make the best out of the situation,” said assistant manager Jose Cano.

When DePrimo gave away the boots, the man thanked him with a “smile (that) went from ear to ear.”

“And again, he said God bless me. And he said be safe.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.psephizo.com Ian Paul

    This is a great story. But something that we Brits find puzzling: when an individual does it, people think it is great, but when it is suggested that this ought to be done systematically, it suddenly becomes an evil called socialism…?

  • http://DrIBEXIdeas William Varner

    Oh, Ian, what a sour comment about such a touching story! Couldn’t you resist taking a dig at some Americans?

  • Brent Sweeney

    Ian, you can’t systematize this, you’ve made a category mistake. What makes this so compelling is that it’s spontaneous, generous, unconditional, human. To systematize it you’d have to make it organised, budgeted, means tested and institutional.

  • http://www.psephizo.com Ian Paul

    My comment was not intended as a dig at Americans, but is a dig at individualism and rampant capitalism. My intention was to echo the comment of Helder Camara, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, when he said: ‘When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call mea communist.’

    I don’t know if you are aware of the extraordinary escalation of inequality between the rich and the poor in capitalist economies, and the way that this is both undermining and corrupting democracy in the West? I think it is both a serious political issue–but is also of great offence to God, and Christians need to be both aware of it and stand against it.

  • http://www.psephizo.com Ian Paul

    We are in danger of heading the same way in the UK, but if you have a moment, check out the Wikipedia article on ‘Income inequality in the US’ for some important graphs and stats, and this page to see the economic consquences. http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/10/02/how-income-inequality-is-damaging-the-u-s/

    Richard Wilkinson looking at the effect of inequality on different nations and cultures.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html
    What is strange to me is how Christians find it so difficult to engage with these insights, when they chime so closely with much of the teaching of Jesus…

  • Jenny

    I agree with Ian – it’s a wonderful story, but the fact is that the USA is one of the most unequal societies in the world (the UK is trying hard to catch up, alas). Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett’s excellent book, The Spirit Level, demonstrates that unequal societies are worse for everyone, both the rich and the poor. How can we build the Kingdom of God unless we address the system that promotes injustice? Just as Jesus pointed out the injustices of the social system under Roman conquest in his day, so we need to challenge and work to change the system of our own day. There’ll still be plenty of chances for each of us individually to help others and show kindness, but that is not enough. We need to change our societies as well. Otherwise we are just supplying tiny sticking plasters over a raw and gaping wound.


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