One fateful day I was in the elevator when it stoped at a particular floor, Mr. Milton entered with his cleaning cart and greeted me quite cheerfully; how are you today? he asked. I responded with a smile, "I'm blessed." Little did I know that that particular response would have sparked an important ministry for the Lord and a great friendship.
Mr. Milton was intrigued by my response and asked "Are you a Christian?" I replied yes. He asked me what church I attended and a friendly conversation ensued from there. My mother and I were hosting a bible study series at our home called a Revelation Seminar (a study of Daniel and Revelation). So I invited Mr. Milton to attend, he was happy for this opportunity as he shared that he read his bible but never attended a seminar or bible study before and he gladly accepted the invitation.
Mr. Milton did not drive so I would pick him up on the two evenings per week after his shift was finished at work and take him to our home for the bible study. Because he was coming directly from work, my mom would prepare something for him to eat. He was always delighted and exclaimed that it had been years since he had a hot home cooked meal. He would recall stories of when he was a boy growing up and how his mother would cook for his family. Mr. Milton was a middle aged African American man, he lived alone and his origins were from the South. He was very very slender. I think mainly because he was a smoker. He was also very friendly, well mannered, optimistic and enjoyed healthy intelligent conversations.
The bible study was well attended and at the end Mr. Milton made the decision for baptism. He got baptized and joined a church closer to his home. We remained really good friends over the years, he attended my graduations and other special events we've had. We would drop in at his church every now and then and surprise him and enjoy worship with his church family.
Mr. Milton ended up ministering to us some years later when we were going through a very trying time. He prayed, encouraged and was a great moral support for us. It was during this time that Mr. Milton shared with me that when he first met me, he had not long started the janitorial job at the University. He revealed that he was homeless for several years and did odd jobs at construction sites etc. He slept at the homeless shelter called the Mission. He remembered how at night during meals the helpers at the Mission would sing and talk about the Lord. It was those experiences that gave him hope in his heart and sparked his interest in learning more about God.
I loved Mr. Milton like an Uncle. There was a trust and frienship that could have only been orchastrated by God. Somehow, we lost contact in the recent years. When we visited the church he had attended we were told that he had retired and moved back to his home state in the south where he had a sister. His cell number that we had was no longer working. My heart ached and I really miss Mr. Milton.
May your covenant with God never sever Mr. Milton. I miss you dearly, I don't know if you are alive and well or have passed on in death but I hope one day we will be reunited in heaven when God returns. We will sing and shout and dance about and rejoice that we made it. This is our hope; And until then....
If I Can Help Somebody by Morgan State University Choir.