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  • Erik Hatch

See a Sermon

I’d rather see a sermon than hear a sermon any day. And this last week I got a chance to see a couple of sermons.


I was traveling with 20 youth and young adults to and from Bozeman, MT from Fargo, ND (we spent 3 days at Bridger Bowl Ski Resort and were heading home). This 750+ mile drive in the dead of winter is a bit of a gamble, even on a good day. But with 2 rented vans and a trailer full of gear, we ventured along the seemingly endless stretch of interstate travel. We were leaving Bozeman around 3pm with hopes of arriving back in Fargo around 4am the next morning.


Coming off the mountain/ski resort was a battle in and of itself. It was pouring rain (in January…in Montana) and the road conditions were less than perfect. But soon enough we made it to clear roads where we could travel the speed limit without reservation.


The further east we traveled, the worse it got. We stopped for dinner in Miles City, MT – and at that point made the decision to venture on to the next ‘big’ city of Glendive, MT…roughly 90 miles away. We hit the road, cautiously, and realized soon thereafter that we were in for a white-knuckled journey (it took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to travel 90 miles on the interstate where the speed limit is 75mph and usually there are no cars in sight).


I think we maxed our speed out at 47mph. Every time we were passed, it was total white-out conditions. The roads were covered in snow…and underneath that snow was, what appeared to be, the largest interstate/hockey rink ever created.


And we found out just how slick the roads were when we were 6 miles outside of Glendive. There, in the ditch, we saw a car with California plates that was trapped and had no way out (of course us snobby North Dakota folks made some snide comments about how California people have no clue how to drive in this weather). So our two vans pull over and I tell our group that we are going to help get this guy out of the ditch…and immediately the group springs into action. It was so life-giving to see!


So I had the privilege of walking out to the man…asked if he was ok…and then told him that I’d have 20 people at his car in the next minute or two to get him out of the ditch. And, it turns out, this was his only option.

He had no money…him and his wife were recently divorced…he was on his way to Bismarck, ND to meet with a pastor to find work…and he had been sleeping in his car. And after our group pushed him out, he followed us to Glendive (where we had reserved 5 hotel rooms for our group).


He inquired at the Comfort Inn (where we were staying) on how much a room would cost…the answer? $98.50. He mumbled some serious frustration at this point…so one of my best friends, Erik Diederich, takes the guy aside…and asks him how much money he has. They end up calling the guy’s debit card company, and as I walk by I briefly hear the amount on speaker phone…”you have eight dollars and eighty-three cents in your account.”

The man held his head in shame. And I watched my 19 year old friend Erik say to the man directly, “How can I help? What do you want? You are not sleeping in your car tonight. Do you want me to get you a room? I’ll get you a room.” Sure enough, Erik got him a hotel room and paid for it out of his own pocket.


I watched a 19 year old BE a sermon. He didn’t talk to him about God (at least at that moment). He didn’t talk about being born-again or salvation or grace. Instead, Erik showed mercy. He showed love. It was phenomenal to watch.


Matthew 25 says, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes (or a hotel room) or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”


So may you be a sermon today. Jesus has a lot of disguises, and Erik was wise enough to see Christ…freezing and broke. And that was about the best sermon I’d heard/seen in quite some time. He has inspired me to do more with what I have. I hope he’s done the same for you. Erik Hatch

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