OTHELLO — Under a bright, early May sun outside the Othello City Hall, Angel Garza told a small gathering of worshipers that he was reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan.
It’s a well known story from the Gospel of Luke, in which a lawyer asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life, and after explaining to Jesus what the Torah commands, Jesus then tells the story of a man who is beaten and left for dead on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. He’s helped not by a priest or Levite, but by a Samaritan, who bandages the wounded man’s injuries and takes him, at his own expense, to an inn to recover.
By priest and Levite, Garza told those gathered to think of a head pastor and his associate, or maybe a deacon. People who are supposed to go out of their way to help.
“That was very sad,” said Garza, a developer, member of the Othello City Council and Sunday school teacher at Bethel Assembly of God Church in Othello.
But it’s not hopeless. The Samaritan tells us who we should be, Garza added.
“This is the kind of person Jesus is looking for,” Garza said of the Samaritan. “He’s looking for people that love, that honor, that glorify him, that praise him.”
“We must be able to give a hand to the neighbor when you are in need,” Garza said. “That is our responsibility, and I’m preaching this more to me than I am to you.”
“That is our responsibility,” Garza repeated. “And if we’re not doing it, we’re not doing God’s will.”
Garza was speaking — preaching, really — during a noon prayer rally in front of the Othello City Hall last Thursday as part of the National Day of Prayer to pray for the city, its people, and all those in authority.
Instituted in 1952, the National Day of Prayer invites “people of all faiths to pray for the nation” and “to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families,” according to an official website promoting the event.
The Othello service, organized by Bethel Assembly of God Church, was as much in Spanish as it was in English, and those leading the service prayed for the city, its leaders, its children, and even President Donald J. Trump — a prayer which elicited more than a few responses of “sí, Señor!”
“The word of God does tell us to pray for all the higher authorities, that his love conquer everything,” Garza said after the prayer meeting ended. “Because if his love conquers everything, I mean, we have it made.”
Garza said the turnout for Thursday’s prayer service was good “compared to other years,” but he predicts it will get even better in the future because “there’s a strong revival coming to our nation” in the future.
“America needs more God,” said Sam Garza, lead pastor at Bethel. “If we don’t speak out, declare his goodness, his grace, his love, and all that he is, who else is going to do it?”
The rocks will, according to Scripture, Pastor Garza responds.
“I’m so glad that we are here and we’re proclaiming the name of Jesus and we’re asking that he help us as a country to grow, and reflect who he is, all his love, his mercy, his compassion upon each and every one of us as his children,” the pastor said.
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.