He was known as the Rescue Man by emergency care centers, homeless shelters, food banks, and soup kitchens. Only the police whom he interacted with in some dire situations knew his real name.
The Rescue Man was always on the look out for people who were in desperate situations. He had a knack for reaching out to those whose lives were hanging by a thread. He could connect with them as few others could. He could convince them to seek help. But most important, he would take them to the sources of support they needed.
He became known for his Good Samaritan work at the support services in the community. Those who provided support would follow up with him to let him know how his rescue projects were doing. Often he would follow up by providing replacement clothes, food, or even get them into transitional living arrangements. He also worked with social service agencies to get them government assistance when it was available.
The Rescue Man had his own career, but none of his professional colleagues knew of this other part of his life. He had no family of his own, so his rescue projects became a surrogate family. The Rescue Man preferred to work outside of the established support agencies because he didn’t want to have to go “by the book” in his efforts to save souls.
After many years of rescuing those in need, the Rescue Man realized that he would no longer be able to continue his efforts. He started saying goodbye to those he worked with. On one goodbye, the young woman whom he had become very fond of got him to open up about his background.
“It began one day when I was going home. The roads were icy, and I wasn’t sure if I could make it home. On the last few hundred yards before I got home, I saw a woman walking the road. She had a baby in her arms and another young child holding her hand. I should have stopped to offer them a ride, but I didn’t. I was afraid my car would not be able to make it over the icy roads if I ever stopped. The next day, I read in the newspaper that they were killed when a car slid into them.”
“I couldn’t sleep for months after that. If only I had stopped and given them a ride. I decided the only way to seek redemption was to help others who were facing dire situations. It didn’t take long for my first opportunity to arrive. I can’t begin to tell you the relief I felt. After several more rescues, I began to sleep again. Although I was seeking redemption, I found my calling. The memories of these rescues mean more to me than anything I’ve done in my career. Thanks for listening but please keep my story private. I’ve never wanted recognition for this part of my life.”
All of us have probably done something where we feel a need for redeeming ourselves. Like the Rescue Man, we probably have faced sleepless nights. Redemption is more than saying, “I’m sorry” or the cavalier, “My bad.” It is doing something positive to atone for the wrong you did. Redemption may not be accepted by those we have wronged, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to turn a wrong into a series of rights. Redemption is, in effect, a cleansing of our soul.
“True redemption is…when guilt leads to good.” – Khaled Hosseini (Afghan American novelist – author of The Kite Runner)