An Ode to James
James, can you go to the bank?
James, can you run to Ace Hardware?
James, can you drive some kids to the weekly meal?
James, can you go get pizza for the community meal?
James, can you unlock the IC Compassion doors?
James, can you drive this Non-English speaking family to their new home or to get groceries?
James, can you drive to HACAP to pick up food?
In remembering all the errands we asked of James Thompson - from mundane requests to the strange and unique - I never heard the word No. I maybe had to repeat it or speak a little louder or give directions 3 or 4 times, but never once did I hear the words from James, "No, I can’t do it". James was always willing to get behind the wheel for IC Compassion, whatever the request.
The more I thought about it - and James would sometime allude to this - I believe the reason James never said No and was so dedicated to IC Compassion and our mission, was because James had a life changing experience that turned him toward God and service to others. This experience resulted in him becoming rooted here with this community, surrendering his life and ultimately his heart, to God. He would often mention his past and the amount of grace and love God had shown him through the various trials and journeys life took him on.
The reason James never said No to others was because he realized there was a God who had never said No to him, who never turned His back, who had never left him.
God kept pursuing him, never saying No - because James was his son whom he loved and gave his life for. So you never heard James say No. James always said Yes - just as Isaiah answered when God asked “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then [Isaiah] replied - 'Here am I, send me.'" (Isaiah 6:8)
That same love and obedience compelled James to serve and never say No. And saying Yes meant more than errands; James enabled ministries to better serve people, he brought kids to this place to hear about the love of Jesus, he met a stranger to bring him supplies to do a huge outreach event in the community. James brought immigrants to their citizenship interviews to help them with their chance for a new life in America. He drove people to IC Compassion for what might be their only hot meal that week. The magnitude of people reached and lives changed because James never said No is hard to fathom.
I hope in remembering and honoring James Thompson's life we can look at our own lives and say… What would it be like if we loved others in that way that we never said No? Your heavenly father who gave his son, who shed his blood for each of us, never said No to you. What if we could live in that love and never say No to serving and loving those whom Christ has called us to love?