My Friend Willie

The first time I met Willie (name changed) was when he stopped by the church needing $5 for some gas money. He told me he was down on his luck and if he could get a little gas, he could get some work. I didn’t have a 5 dollar bill so I gave him a 10. Despite having nothing in common, little did I know that almost a year later, Willie and I would be  friends.

Willie is a 44 year-old black man. Although he’s just a few months younger than me, he looks much older. The years of rough living have been hard on Willie. I guess we’re an odd pair to see together at church and around town, because I had someone ask me the other day, “How have you two got hooked up together?” I just laughed and said that it must be a God-thing.

I’m learning from Willie how tough it is to be poor. Things don’t come easy when you have nothing. Little things I take for granted, he does without. Willie lives in a house about the size of a shed that most people have in their backyard. His house does have electricity, but no water and no heat. This winter has been tough on Willie. It’s been cold and he’s down to one small space heater. We’ve taken him lots of blankets and have been looking for a way to get heat to his house, but no luck yet. A shower for Willie consists of bathing in a cold bucket of water that he gets from his neighbors water hose. And yet, I give little thought to the hot showers I take everyday. I take for granted being able to whip a few bucks out of my pocket to buy something, when Willie doesn’t even have a few bucks.

Right or wrong, no one really wants to give Willie a job. He’s made some poor choices in his life … but so have I.  Willie has no source of income at all, but someone did give him an old pickup about a month ago. We were able to get it running, gassed up and tagged and for a month he was able to have a little income from some odd jobs around town. Didn’t take long before the pickup died, and he was back to walking everywhere and no income.

This past week I had Willie help me do some painting and work at the Augment House. I’d told him if he’d help me that we’d go to United and get some groceries for his house. My friend John had given me a $50 United gift card to give him and he, as always, was more than willing to work.

We spent the afternoon working and about dark we took off to United to buy him groceries. Little did I know that this trip to the grocery store was going to break my heart.  Willie was as giddy as a kid at Christmas.  I’d never seen him so excited. He’d pick up a package of bologna, show it to me and excitedly say, “Man, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve been able to buy bologna.” He grabbed chips, a whole chicken, eggs, coffee and other things I buy without thought and would say, “I love this.  I haven’t had it in months.” Again, all things I buy without a second thought. I asked him if he had a refrigerator to keep all this in and he gave me a silly grin and said, “Of course, but if I didn’t my house is cold enough to keep it fresh.” Then I asked him, “What have you been eating lately, Willie?” To which he replied, “Just cans of beans and things that you guys have given me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for what y’all give me, but these (as he pointed to the basket with a big smile) are real groceries.”

His basket was filled to the rim when we checked out. I had no doubt he had more than $50, but I wasn’t going to tell him to put stuff back. On the way back to his house he rambled on and on about all he was going to cook for supper that night. He also mentioned that he’d like to cook for me sometime. I told him I’d love to have a Willie-cooked-meal anytime. Amazing, he has absolutely nothing in this world, yet he was wanting to share with me.

When we got back to his “house,” I helped him carry in his groceries. As I drove home to my warm house where supper was waiting, I fought back tears. I really don’t cry all that easy, but this whole grocery store trip had  set me off. I prayed and thanked God that a guy that had started out as a “mission project” … had become my friend.

(Disclaimer: I don’t tell you any of these things to bring attention or praise to myself. BUT I want to share with you about Willie to say … there are Willie’s out there EVERYWHERE! Go find one and bless him. When you do, you’ll be blessed too.)

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Trey Morgan tagged this post with: , , Read 1182 articles by
45 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Honduras says:

    I think you just found a Honduras, right here in Childress Texas. Careful what you pray for huh?

  2. Richard says:

    To put your mind at ease, the post didn’t come off as self-congratulatory in any way. A wonderful reflection and reminder.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Thanks Richard, that did make me feel better.

      • Kim Wise says:

        Trey, I continue to be impressed and inspired by your work. I stumbled across you online last year and have become facebook friends with you and I am grateful that I did. You are a humble man but I want you to know that you’re a blessing and I thank you for helping to remind me of how to be a better person. God Bless!

  3. Patrick Mead says:

    Well done, brother. We spend a lot of time up here with folks like Willie and they always bless us more than we bless them.

  4. The last (and I do mean LAST) church I served “full-time” was located in the southwest. We seemed to be a crossroads for drifters and grifters, and I was scammed at least one. The standard answer I was told to give when calls came to the church for “gas money” was to say that we didn’t have a benevolence program. That was true. However, we as a church could have done the hard work of actually trying to form relationships with some of the folks that actually lived in the area and who said they needed help. As it was, if “Willie” had come to my church, we would likely have been sent away without any cash.

    Thank you for not turning him away.

  5. Jennie says:

    Honduras did open my eyes to those living in our city. AND, like our Willie, they have become some of my dear friends. And we have a William!!!! Getting him some new teeth this week.

    We are blessed!!

  6. Glenna Garcia says:

    I am shedding tears for you. I will ask Oscar if he could use “Willie” every now and then for some money.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Trey Morgan, Adam Gonnerman and Dads Who Believe. Dads Who Believe said: Meet My Friend Willie #fathers […]

  8. Dee Andrews says:

    Thank you for sharing Willie’s story with us, Trey. I’ve got tears, too.

    And you did NOT come across as trying to feature your own works. It came across as God using you to do HIS work!! So be it.


  9. Jennifer says:

    I have followed you through your works of service and your devotion to others inspires me. Thanks for being one of those that can form relationships with others. I have been thinking so much about this and wrote a servant’s 23 Psalm that is posted on my blog. I will try and make a friend like Willie. My resolution for 2011. Bless you.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Thank you Jennifer. I know it’s a stretch out of our comfort zones, but it’s well worth it. I know you’ll bless a Willie out there. Blessings to you too.

  10. Amy O'Connor says:

    We had a lot of hard times growing up in Childress and lived in some not-so-great housing but not quite like Willie’s house. Thank God for people like you Trey. I can imagine how blessed Willie feels to have you as his friend.

  11. Barry Wiseman says:

    Powerful stuff, Trey! Maybe we need to reorient the phrase “You give me the willies” and say “Give me a Willie, Lord.”

  12. Anita says:

    You seriously need to tag the stories as “bring klenex” so I’ll know not to read it While in the beauty shop. Good story. Pray Willie will continue to be blessed!!

  13. Greg England says:

    Another heart-warming story from you, Trey. Anyone who knows you or reads you for long knows there is not a self-serving bone in your body.

  14. Candy says:

    Thank you for serving Willie. His appreciation is so heart-warming and sincere.

  15. suzi hodges says:

    Trey, you are so blessed. Of course I am crying. There are many willies out there. As the Bible says “when I was hungry you fed me”. It is amazing how God puts certain people in our paths and both receive the blessing. I am so grateful you are there for him. God bless you both :)

  16. Donna says:

    Amen Trey! Thank you for the reminder. I cried remembering when we did soup for awhile, there was one lady who was so excited to get an apple! The thing I toss out after I let it set to long was a real treat to her! I am both ashamed and motivated.

  17. Henry Turner says:

    Thanks again for reminding me of the goddensss of the Lord and Keep up the work in His Holy Name
    Be bless and stay strong in Jesus Name

  18. justin nash says:

    You know, buddy, on my best days…
    I always feel the most blessed when I give to others. Never feel more loved than when I show the love of the FATHER to the marginalized or forgotten, and always feel overwhelmed with blessing when I sacrifice my excessive and comfortable life/stuff for the people GOD has put around in my life for the purpose of teaching me HIS heart!

  19. Stacey Steward says:

    I was wanting to know if my finace and I could send some money to you Trey to give to Willie to help him out in his time of need. Also I have thought about asking George if he could come and stay with us. He could pay his rent right now by helping me fix some stuff around the house that needs to be fixed. Then we could see about getting him a job with one of the farm hands here or something along those lines to where he will have his own money. God bless you for what you have done for this man, it sounds like you really made his day when he went to the grocery store with you. You have always been a gentle caring and loving guy and I am glad to see that you are still that way. Let me know and address or something to where I could send some money or gift cards to help Willie out. May god bless you and your family and keep you.

    In Him,

    Stacey Steward

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Stacey …. you are very kind. Thank you for not just feeling bad for him, but wanting to help too. We’ve had a few that wanted to help and have. We got heat on at his little place last night (a little propane take and a heater), thanks to some donations. I’ll send you my address via facebook. Thanks girly. :)

  20. Kim Robinson says:

    Last Sunday, Jan 2nd, a group of us headed to our usual Sunday afternoon spot to provide lunch for the homeless and impoverished in our hometown. It was very cold. Normally we are in our city park to provide the meal but fortunately, for now, we are able to provide the meal in a building that we can get some heat in. Many times on the first Sunday of the month we don’t have many, 30-40 maybe. However, we had somewhere between 60 and 80 which is a more typical number for the middle of the month. We have come to know many of these people and count them as friends. Tim is one of our regulars that many of us have grown to love deeply. We count him as a dear friend. Tim is schizophrenic and also suffered devastating burns over a large part of his upper body. Because, he did not heal correctly his arms will not straighten out completely. Many Sunday’s Tim will come by and be in great spirits and ready to engage with most of us. Many Sunday’s he comes, and is not doing well mentally and doesn’t want anything to do with any of us. He has thrown food at people, thrown temper tantrums and been downright ugly to most of us. He can be a handful but you can’t help but love him. Even on the days he is ugly he always comes back around and apologizes for how he has been acting. Last Sunday he came in and was in very good spirits. He insisted on being seated away from everyone and would not eat until everyone else had been served. On this particular day he smelled horribly. As we talked to him he told me he had not had a shower in a long time. I asked him if he could go to the Salvation Army to take a shower and he said no. So I asked him if he would consider coming with me to our church building and taking a shower there. He agreed. We found him some “new” clothes in our clothes closet and we hopped in my car and drove out to our church building. We got him setup in the men’s shower area and I helped him get his shoes, socks and shirts off. I do not believe I have ever seen such dirty feet. We left him to take his shower. After the warm shower, we were able to bandage his arms (they are constantly bleeding because the skin is so fragile from his burns) and get him in a soft shirt and overshirt. The I took him back to town with a stop at the quick stop on the way for burritos, pork rinds and a coke. He bragged to everyone who was in the store about how good the shower felt and how clean he was and how he almost fell asleep the water was so warm. He could not wait for people to see him so they could see he was “a new man”. Even on Tuesday of that week he went into a friend’s business and was still so happy that he had gotten a warm shower. Tim has a very sad past. He was abused by his mother and for reasons I don’t know at this time the remaining part of his family will not have anything to do with him. He has an engineer’s mind and can make the most amazing things out of what we would consider trash. But his mental problems make it impossible for him to have a job and he cannot handle money. He pretty much refuses to live in an enclosed environment which means he is out in the elements most of the time. I left him on that Sunday in front of a quick stop with a new sleeping bag and a bag of food. He ran into the store to share with the clerk how good he felt to be clean. I drove home with the reminder that I take way too much for granted, that every person is God’s creation and that I need to be willing to see beyond what my own eyes can take in and look at people that way God does.

  21. Amanda (Moore) Downing says:

    Oh Trey…how I’ve missed you!!!! I found your website by accident today. Let me just tell you, you never cease to inspire & amaze me. I was reading this blog when my 4 year old walked into the room. I try to teach him real life lessons as often as possible, so I thought sharing your Willie story with him would be a good idea. He responded with his innocence shining on his sleeve and a smile as big as Texas “When I get my birthday money back I will give it to him to buy him food. It’s good to share money.” Oh what a child can teach US, if we just take the time to invoke them. Although I haven’t seen you in years you have been such a great mentor for me as all that you have taught me (by sermons & example) has been tattooed in my heart. I especially enjoyed the insight to your battle with cancer. Cancer is an evil disease that is fought with prayer & determination. You were able to turn such an evil thing into a blessing….helping to ground you and help remind you (and all of us who live vicariously through your stories) that life IS about the simple things…faith family & friends! Thanks for re-inspiring me with all of your stories.
    With LOTS of love,
    Amanda (Moore) Downing

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Amanda … SO glad you found my blog. I still remember you and your sister from camp. I still ask your mom and dad how you are doing. Thanks for the kind words. Stop back by anytime.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Trey Morgan
Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
  • He was pretty tough to listen to as well.
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