Thanksgiving is on Thursday, so Iīm certain you presume I would be expounding and extolling all our many blessings and reminding folks just how much we take for granted in this great country. I should be writing about family gatherings and turkey dinners, but Iīm not. Nope. I donīt believe I could make one creative statement or add one original comment to the many that have been written over the years on these deserving topics. Instead, this Thanksgiving holiday I would like to tell you about an extraordinary man I met this past summer in Atlanta.
His name is Joe Oreskovic and he is a television producer. He has not always been a television producer. Not many years ago, he lived in a cardboard box on the streets of Atlanta. He never intended to end up living in a box, but then, neither did the other 40,000 homeless people in that city. He had a family, a good job, a large home, a double car garage and all the other perks and whistles. One day, something went wrong. Very wrong. Joe became a non- person with a non-identity. Even drugs and alcohol could not deaden the pain and humiliation. Loneliness, despair and hopelessness were his constant companions. For all intent and purposes, he did not even exist. People scurried past his makeshift shelter and nobody seemed to care.
All those months, he didnīt know that God cared. Cared very much. Cared enough to send a firefighter to tell him about Jesus. This good Samaritan gave Joe not only a meal, but food for his soul. He gave him 17 scripture verses that became his life-line and his hope. Then a police officer took him to a rehab center and encouraged him to get a job mopping floors at a fast food chain. These two seemingly simple acts of kindness altered his life forever.
Joe got his life back on track and became determined to find a way to repay the firemen and the law enforcement officers of this entire nation. God gave him a vision to build a Memorial Garden in their honor. People laughed out loud, when the guy from the box, spoke of raising two million dollars. Joe heard that Jesus fed the 5,000 with just a few loaves and fishes and realized that Jesus simply used what was available to Him, a little boyīs meager lunch. After blessing this meal, He merely distributed it, and everyone had more than enough. So, Joe took what he had, a mop and gargantuan faith and believed God for a miracle.
After meeting the owner of a two acre property and then pre-selling cemetery plots to raise the funds, Joe made Godīs Word come alive.
The Public Servantīs Memorial Garden, in Atlanta, with the 17 scriptures engraved in granite stands as a testimony that little things become monumental when God is in them.
Joe is also solely responsible for orchestrating House Bill 1033 which introduced the 20 year retirement program for the firemen and policemen of Georgia.
Joe then enhanced Godīs vision by going back to his place of depravation, via television, and reached out a helping hand. In this past year, his program, the Gravedigger, a nickname that stuck because of the cemetery plots, has been responsible for directly stopping 2 murders and 12 suicides through itīs suicide prevention hotline.Remarkably, over 100 people have testified that they came off alcohol and drugs because of the guy that came out of a box.
Joe understands the concept of giving thanks. He learned it from two government servants who saw him as more than an occupational hazard. Giving thanks is not just some warm fuzzy sentiment on a family holiday. It is reaching out, as servants of the living God, to those around us, with what He has placed in our hand and doing unto others..
Part of a song we sing in church fitly says :
Touch through me, Holy Spirit, Touch through me. Let my hands reach out to others, Touch through me Love through me Holy Spirit, Love through me I will be my brotherīs keeper, Love through me. Hearts are bleeding deep inside, Love can dry their weeping eyes, So love through me Holy Spirit, Love through me.
Happy ThanksGIVING. May you give as you have received - - bushels of blessings.