Categories: Spiritual Growth Opportunities

Hometown Hero: Making a Difference for Others

The current movie “Unsung Hero” portrays the early lives of the two brothers who form the Christian rock group For King + Country. The unsung hero is their mom, whose love and strong support for her family never wavered even during tough times. While I also consider my parents to be heroes, this got me thinking about other people in my life who–in ways large and small–influenced and perhaps changed me. I thought of Ronnie.

I grew up in Long Beach, Indiana, a small town of 2,000 folks spread along three miles of beautiful beaches along southern Lake Michigan. There was only one store in town—Ronnie’s deli and grocery. Ronnie, his wife and sister owned and operated the small store crammed with foods, hardware supplies, butcher shop and you-name-it. For years, Ronnie’s became the epicenter of my little world as everyone seemed to congregate there. I rode there often on my bike to hang out and usually bought baseball cards at a nickel a pack. (This was a long time ago!)

Ronnie added a small grill off the back of the store that mainly serving burgers to school kids. Long Beach school was just one block away and included kindergarteners through 8th graders. This was long before fast food places and it was fun to go there for lunch. Ronnie would have the whole griddle covered with frying burgers. He’d flip them off, place them on a bun and pickles, and wrap them in wax paper. He would then hold a burger in one hand behind his back and continue frying with the other hand. (This was his way of not showing favoritism.) The big crowd of kids would grab for burgers, sometimes taking turns and sometimes not. We then dutifully walked to the front of the store and paid his wife 25 cents. Some kids used to laughingly call them “Ronnie’s filth burgers”, but I remember them as wonderful.

Ronnie was an institution in this small town; everybody loved him and his family. During the big blizzard of 1957, the southern Lake Michigan shore received almost 5 feet of snow in 36 hours. Needless to say, everything came to a halt and people for miles around were stranded and isolated. That did not stop Ronnie. For days he trudged miles through heavy unplowed snow, extreme cold and blinding blizzards to deliver milk and other essentials to families with small children. Looking back, Ronnie was one of those people who showed me the value of hard work, an unselfish caring for others and a desire to help neighbors in need. I bet all of you readers can identify similar folks from your lives.

Jesus Christ is hardly an “unsung hero” to believers, but to millions of others worldwide He is still largely unknown or misunderstood. As we celebrate communion this Sunday, let us remember His great sacrifice for our sins and take His great commission outside Crestview’s walls, telling people the Good News about Christ, the ultimate and forever hero.

Bruce Fairbairn, Elder