A friend of mine named Jeff knows what it means to choose between playing it
safe and taking a risk. He spent four years as Ronald McDonald for the
McDonalds Corporation. As you may know, "Ronald" often visits children in
Jeff says the warmth and gratification he received
stayed with him despite two restrictions: 1) "Ronald" must be accompanied by
McDonalds and hospital personnel; and 2) "Ronald" is not allowed to touch
people to avoid germ transfer. He appreciated the rules and knew that breaking
either one could cost him his job.
One day he heard the weak voice of a sick child calling out: "Ronald ...
Ronald." Gingerly opening a hospital door, he found a boy of 5 who seemed to be
hooked up to every piece of medical equipment imaginable. Tubes ran in all
directions. Pumps hissed their steady rhythm. A nurse tended to the equipment
while the childs parents and grandparents hovered around the bed awaiting a
glimmer of hope. His heart sank as he sensed their anxiety.
Quietly, he walked over and asked the little boy his name. "Billy," came the
weak response. He did a few little magic tricks for him as he lay smiling.
Then, just as he was leaving, Billy stopped him and softly asked, "Ronald,
will you hold me?" It was a simple request, yet what flashed through his mind
was the plain fact that if he touched the child, he could lose his job.
Smiling, he told Billy that he could not hold him right now, but he could take
a minute and color a picture with him.
When the picture was finished, he started for the door only to be stopped
again: "Ronald, will you hold me?" His heart cried "yes!" but his mind shouted
"no!" Which voice should I obey? Should I grant this simple request from a
little boy who will probably never leave the hospital? He could think of no
reasonable response that would allow him to leave the room.
At last, he decided he couldnt pass up the opportunity to bring a little
happiness and hope to a dying child. He sent Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa out
of the room, and suggested that his McDonald escorts check on their van in the
parking lot. The nurse stayed, but he asked her to turn away, as he reached out
his arms and gingerly lifted the fragile frame of this little wonder of a human
While Billy lay in "Ronalds" arms for almost an hour, the two laughed and
cried together. Billy talked about the things that worried himhis little
brother might get lost coming home from kindergarten next year without his big
brother there to show him the way, or his dog wouldnt get another bone because
Billy had hidden them in the house and couldnt remember where he had put them.
These, he learned, were the problems little ones worry about when they know
theyre never going home again.
Later, through the tear-streaked make-up, he gave Billys mom and dad his
real name and phone number (another act that could lead to termination), and
asked that he be contacted if he or the McDonalds Corporation could do anything
Less than 48 hours later, he received a call from Billys mom saying that
little Billy had died. She and her husband only wanted to express their thanks
for the difference "Ronald" had made in their little boys life. Shortly after
he had left the room, she said Billy had looked her in the eyes and said,
"Mama, I dont care anymore whether I see Santa this year because I was held by
Ronald McDonald." This caring man made a difference by taking a personal risk
during this, Billys ultimate transition. If we apply his example to our on
mission lifestyles, we could make a differencenot just during lifes
transitionsbut whenever we have an opportunity to share Christ.
Bob Reccord is president of the North American Mission Board,
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC