‘Cripple Tom’ listened intently as the Sunday School teacher explained the lesson. An accident when he was five had deprived Tom of his left leg. He was now ten. He was one of a dozen boys who attended Sunday School at Grace Mission in the slums of the large city of Milchester. For twenty years Miss Manly had taught pupils there. Many of them had grown to manhood, and God had permitted her to see that her labor had not been in vain. Not one boy had ever passed through her class that she did not seek to lead into a definite experience with Jesus Christ. Little Tom Harris was a shining trophy of grace. Tom had come to the class more than a year ago, and like a beautiful flower his heart had opened to the love of God. And the little crippled lad had sought to witness among his newsboy friends for Jesus Christ. Many of them he had brought to Sunday School to be dealt with by Miss Manly.
It was Easter Sunday, and the teacher had told the boys the story of the resurrection of Christ. That the story had laid hold upon their imaginations and touched their hearts was evident from the rapt attention. Simply, graphically, the teacher pictured the closing scenes of the Lord’s life. His death and His resurrection. In simple words she told them that this was the one story that would bring men to God, and that no one was too weak or too young to tell it. “Remember, boys,” she said, “because you know that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you and rose again from the dead that He might destroy death, you too should tell the story.” She had drawn a picture from the world of nature. The cold, frozen unresponsive earth was like the heart of man, she said, until warmed by the sun of God’s love it burst into a new life of faith, hope, and trust in Jesus Christ.
The story touched Tom that day as he hurried home to his father, his crutch tap, tap, tapping on the pavement. His father stayed in bed all Sunday to sleep off the effects of his drunken spree on Saturday night, and it was Tom’s supposed duty to go home on Sunday afternoon and put the kettle on for his father and make him his tea. As he hurried along, the teacher’s words were ringing in his ears. He was only a little fellow with one leg, and it never occurred to him that God might use him much in His service. Of course he had asked other fellows to come to Sunday School, but that was not much, he thought. It was so good to be there, he thought others might enjoy it as much as he. But to speak for Christ was different. He did not know much, but he did know Jesus had done something for him that made him happy, and perhaps he could tell someone that He had risen from the dead. Tom wondered if he dare tell his father the good news. While he did not object to Tom’s going to Sunday School he said frequently he “had no use for religion.” Still, Tom thought, “I don’t want to talk about religion, but about Jesus, and He is alive today!”
When Tom reached the third floor of the apartment in Hogan’s Alley he found his father sitting on the bed with his head in his hands and the picture of despair. Tom hastened to put the kettle on the stove. He hopped about on his crutch for all the world like a little sparrow. He placed a loaf of bread on the table, two cups, one knife, and a small piece of butter. This finished, the boy then hopped to an overturned box in front of his father and sat down.
The man lifted his head and peered at his son through eyes that were bleary from drink. “Tommy, lad,” he said, “never take a drink. Look at me, your father. I once was a man, and now I’m an animal. You are a good boy, Tommy, to have such a father as me.”
Tom looked at his father, and his face glowed with suppressed excitement, and a fire was in his bones to tell him about Christ. “Father,” he cried, in a voice that thrilled with excitement. “Christ is risen.” It was the first sermon that the lad had preached and his father looked at him in amazement. Reaching out his hand Tom laid it gently on his father’s arm and said again, “Dad, Christ is risen from the dead. Our teacher told us today. He is alive. He has all power and He can save you. Dad, won’t you believe it and trust Him to save you from sin – and the drinking?”
For a minute or two the bemused eyes of the man looked at his son uncomprehendingly. It seemed as though the words had penetrated no further than his ears. Then gradually it seemed they entered his mind and he muttered to himself, “Christ is risen.” Rising from the bed he walked the length of the room and back again and murmured “Christ is risen.” And then the Sword of the Spirit of God pierced his heart and he turned with eyes overflowing to his young crippled son. “Tommy, my boy,” he cried, “tell your father some more. Is it true? Can Christ save the likes o’ me?”
For a moment Tom was stricken at the change in his father. The tears of remorse and repentance were streaming down his cheeks. The lad could not preach, but he remembered his testament that Miss Manly had presented to each of her class. “Listen, Dad,” he said, “I’ll read you what it says.” Opening his testament at the place they had been studying that day Tom read to his father the story of the crucifixion of the Lord. “And Dad,” he said, “that was for you and me. If you will believe it, Jesus will forgive your sin.”
Eagerly the man listened to his crippled son. “Tommy,” he said hoarsely, “do you think He can take away the craving for alcohol?”
“Listen, Dad,” the boy said eagerly, “I’ll read the story of the resurrection.” And Tom read the wonderful story that tells of the first Easter morning when the mighty Saviour rose from the tomb. “Dad, see what it says, ‘All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth.’ Matthew 28:18. The Lord can break the power of your drinking if you ask Him.”
The man put out his hand and laid it on his sons. “Tommy, you ask Him for me.” And there on the floor of the humble apartment knelt the dissolute father and his crippled son. But the apartment was as the gate of Heaven to a poor soul that was born anew through the faith of a young boy. “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37.