The Story of Tommy
By David Brandt Berg
Download Audio (6.5MB)
Tommy was a little crippled newsboy, whose mangled body lay almost helpless on a pitiful pallet by the third-story window of an old rickety tenement on a busy street of a large Eastern city. He’d asked a newsboy friend of his to bring him the book about a man who went about everywhere doing good. The little lad searched and searched for this unnamed book for his crippled friend, until one book dealer finally recognized that he must be talking about the Bible, and the story of Jesus!
The tiny lad scraped together what few pennies he had, and the kindly bookseller gave him a copy of the New Testament, which he rushed back to Tommy on his third-floor pallet. They began to read it together, till Tommy was saved through the Word that he read in the book, and he, too, wanted to do good, like the man in the book—but he was crippled, and could not even leave the little one-room apartment of his old aunt with whom he lived!
But he prayed and asked God to help him, and the Lord showed him a plan. He began to laboriously scribble helpful verses from the Bible on tiny scraps of paper, which he would then drop out of his third-floor window to flutter to the busy street below. Passers-by would see them fluttering down and curiously pick them up to see what they were, only to read the words of a man who went around everywhere doing good—Christ Jesus! Many were helped, encouraged, comforted, and even saved through this simple little ministry of this little lad and his Bible and tiny window!
One day a wealthy businessman was wonderfully saved through reading one of these little verses. After finding Christ, he returned to the spot where he had found the tiny scrap of paper that had led him to the Lord, seeking some key as to how it got there. Suddenly he noticed another little bit of paper fluttering down to the sidewalk from above; and a poor, tired old woman stooped painfully to pick it up, and he watched her countenance brighten as she read it—and there seemed to be new strength in her step as she journeyed on.
The businessman, now transfixed to the spot, kept his eyes glued upward, determined to find the source. He had to wait a long time, for it took poor little crippled Tommy many painful minutes to scrawl even one verse on one of those bits of paper. Suddenly the businessman’s eyes were riveted to a certain window, as he saw a thin little hand reaching outward to drop a piece of paper, like the ones he had seen before, that had brought a whole new life to him. He carefully noted the location of the window, dashed up the stairs of the dirty tenement, and finally found the little one-room hovel of tiny Tom, the sidewalk missionary!
He and Tom immediately became fast friends, and he brought Tom all the help and medical attention that he could, and finally invited Tom to come live with him in his palatial mansion in the suburbs.
But much to his surprise, Tom answered, “I’ll have to ask my friend about it”—meaning Jesus.
The next day the businessman returned, eagerly awaiting Tom’s reply. Oddly enough, Tom asked him some strange questions: “Where did you say your home is?”
“Oh,” said the businessman, “it’s far out in the country on a large and beautiful estate: you’ll have a beautiful room all your own, and servants to care for you, delicious meals, a good bed, every comfort and attention, and anything your heart desires; and my wife and I will love you dearly, and rear you as our own son.”
Hesitantly Tom queried again, “Are there any folks that would pass under my window?”
Surprised, and somewhat baffled, again the businessman replied, saying, “Why, uh, no, only an occasional servant, and perhaps the gardener. You don’t understand, Tom, this is a gorgeous estate, way out in the country, far from the busy noise of the city and the tumult of people. You’ll have quiet there, and be able to rest, and read, and do all you want—away from all this filth and smoke and noise and busy throngs.”
After a long and thoughtful silence, Tom’s face looked very sad, for he hated to hurt his newfound friend, but finally he said quietly, but firmly, with tears in his eyes, “I’m sorry, but you see, I couldn’t live anywhere where people don’t pass under my window.”
I believe this simple little true-life story was a turning point in my own life as a little lad, for, when I heard it told by my own mother, of this man whom she knew personally, I determined then and there, that by the grace of God, I would always try never to live anywhere that people could not pass under the window of the ministry of God’s love in my own life! “I could never live anywhere that people don’t pass under my window!” Could you?
Having once met the man who went about everywhere doing good to those who passed under the window of His life, including me, how could I ever live selfishly again, where people could not pass under my window and receive the same?
“Freely ye have received, also freely give,”1 and “unto whom much hath been given, of the same shall much be required.”2 Are you living where people can pass under your window? Are you ministering to those who do?
Here’s the true story of someone so ignorant, so helpless, and so isolated, you might never have thought they could have had any ministry at all, and would seemingly have had every excuse for not ministering to others, but rather needed to be ministered unto; but love found a way!
Someone is passing under your window right now! Has your love found a way to help them? Has His love showed you how you can help them? He will, if you want to, no matter what the conditions or your limitations—for God has a window, too, and He has promised that, if we obey Him, and open the windows of our lives upon others, He “will open the windows of heaven, and pour out such a blessing, there will not be room enough to hold it.”3
Originally published February 1971. Adapted and republished October 2014.
Read by Jerry Paladino.