The “Call”: We All Receive Them, But When Will You Answer?

The “Call”: We All Receive Them, But When Will You Answer? January 14, 2024

The “Call”: We All Receive Them, But When Will You Answer?

Nine years ago, I got a text from a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years: “I don’t know where to turn or what to do. I’m sick and getting evicted from my apartment as of the 31st. Help me!”.

I was happily living my life. I was a successful singer and sommelier in the San Francisco Bay Area. But, with that one text, my life changed.

Are You Ready When the “Call” Comes?

My friend—we’ll call him Tom—flew with his life partner to say goodbye to his dying mother. While there, Tom’s partner fell gravely ill, passing away in the same hospital a few rooms away from Tom’s mother. In the breath of a few days, Tom lost his mother, partner, and reason to keep going.

Tom was a Ph.D. and very well respected in his community and academia. Over the following couple of years, Tom filled his life with drugs, alcohol, and activities to numb his emotions and memories. When his life was turned upside-down, he reached out to people, but many either didn’t have time, want to change their plans, or put up with his antics caused by the pain.

The "call" by text. Public Domain
Sometimes, God’s call comes in forms that we use every day, like a text. Are you ready to see His message?

Trying to Say “No” To the “Call”

I felt the same way when I received Tom’s text. I told myself, “I don’t have time for this! It’s the day after Christmas and my anniversary.” In full disclosure, Tom had been quite dismissive and mean in earlier conversations with me. So, I wrote back saying I couldn’t see him. He replied, “I have nowhere else to turn. This may be it for me. No one cares anymore.” Stunned by his hollow reply, I said I’d come by, but only for a few minutes.

When I arrived, I found Tom visibly shaken, sick, and weighing only half of what he had the last time I’d seen him. He had a few things packed in old, smelly grocery store boxes that he’d scrounged up, and he sat in one place—silent, rocking forward and back, eyes fixed on a spot a few feet in front of him. After making something warm to drink, he came out of the trance long enough to fill me in on what brought him to this point. He’d burned through all his money and lost his job and every “friend” he had. As of New Year’s Day, he would be on the street. He later told me he contacted me either for help or to say a final goodbye.

I stayed, helped him pack boxes, and promised to return the following day, but just for a few hours. That night, I spoke with my wife and told her all I’d seen and heard. The decision was made. We had to help. The next day, we moved his things into a storage locker and helped find a facility to take him in, allowing him to dry out and receive mental help. New Year’s Day became the first day of the rest of Tom’s life.

Public Domain - The "Call"
God will call us. We never know through whom or by whom, but He WILL call.

Answering the “Call”

This was the day after Christmas nine years ago. This week, I received a note via email from Tom. He’s starting a new job he never thought he would have. He is fully employed, off the street, getting benefits—and most importantly—whole again.

Since saying “Yes” to that simple text—that simple “call”—my life has changed in ways I can’t yet express. Soon after, I received a “call” (quite literally) from a nun at my parish to help her establish an overnight homeless shelter for when there was inclement weather in the Bay Area. The men would bed down on our parish hall floor, and I would be there to facilitate and make sure everyone felt safe. I became a Knight in the Order of Malta, sworn to aid the poor and the sick, and I’m on the trail to the Permanent Diaconate. All of this is due to answering a simple “call.”

Did answering that single “call” change my life? Yes! Was it an easy transition? No! My life became topsy-turvy! What was important—no longer held my interest. What I held in high regard—was now pedestrian. And things that I didn’t have time for—became my focus.

We read in 1 Samuel that Samuel was “called” in the night. He didn’t know who was calling him or why, but when Eli told him to answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” Samuel answered the “call.” And when two of John the Baptizer’s disciples heard him say, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” they listened to the “call” and followed Jesus to where he was staying, causing Andrew (one of the two) to tell his brother, Peter, “We have found the Messiah.” All of this because they heard and listened to a “call.”

I say all these very personal things not to pat myself on the back or state how good I am. No. Just the opposite! I’m opening up to show that anyone, every sinner, like me, is being “called” regularly—every year, month, week, day—we each and every one is being called.


  • What “calls” are you hearing today?
  • What things are causing you to say, “I don’t have time for this…” like I did?
  • What “call” can you finally say “yes” to in your upcoming year?
About Ben Bongers KM
Ben Bongers was an international operatic tenor and practicing sommelier for 30 years based in San Francisco, CA, and Europe. He has written monthly articles for trade magazines in wine and singing over a long and lustrous career. After becoming a semi-full-time caretaker for his parents, he earned an MA in Gerontology (the study of aging and care) and was asked to publish in an eldercare textbook in 2020. He has written several books, all published by EnRoute Books and Media. His first novel, THE SAINT NICHOLAS SOCIETY, has won many awards, and his other two, TRUE LOVE—12 Christmas Stories My True Love Gave to Me, and THE FARMER, THE MINER, THE ARTISAN (a children’s book) are both up for writing awards. Ben is a Knight in the Order of Malta and helped start an overnight homeless shelter at his San Francisco, CA parish. Today, he is a Permanent Diaconate Candidate in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the author here.

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