“Paul, can you come to the lobby? There are two teenage girls down here who need someone to talk with.” Paul Jones led the Christian Life Commission for Mississippi Baptists, based in the Baptist Building in Jackson. When the receptionist paged him, he had no way of knowing he was about to have one of those experiences that confirm all over again the nearness and reality of a great and gracious God.
“Jane here is pregnant,” one of the girls said. “Help her.” Paul said, “I’m not going to help her get an abortion if that’s what you had in mind. But we can definitely help her.” The leader was belligerent and said, “Let’s get out of here. I told you we wouldn’t find any sympathy here.” And they stormed out.
The next day, the pregnant girl, Jane, returned. “You said you could help me,” she told Paul. “How?” Paul said, “Tell me your story.”
Jane was from the Midwest, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Six months earlier, her father had forced her to have sex with a client in order to seal a business deal. When she came up pregnant, he cursed her and threw her out of the house. In time, she showed up in Mississippi, needing help.
Paul contacted a Christian family he knew and they took Jane into their home. When the baby was born, she decided to keep it. The family and Paul found her a job and an apartment. The baby grew and Jane seemed to be managing.
Late one evening, two years later, Paul had spoken at a church on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and was returning home dead-tired when he decided to stop in Hattiesburg and get some sleep. The next morning he walked over to Shoney’s for breakfast. Unshaven and wearing the same clothes he had on yesterday, he hid in the back behind a newspaper, hoping no one would recognize him. Nearby sat two gentlemen at a table, having breakfast. A few minutes later, one of the men approached Paul’s table.
“Are you Dr. Paul Jones?” he asked. Paul sheepishly admitted he was, and began apologizing for his appearance. The man introduced himself as a local minister. He said, “There’s a fellow here with a problem, and I thought you might be able to help.” He called his friend over.
The man told Paul his name, then said, “I live in Missouri. Three years ago, I did a really cruel thing to my daughter and she left home. I’ve become a Christian recently, and I’m trying to find her and see if there’s any way she will forgive me and come back home.” Paul listened to his story, realizing he was hearing the other half of Jane’s sad tale.
When the man finished, Paul said, “Would you like to talk to your daughter right now?” He said, “More than anything in the world.” Paul pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number in Jackson. A moment later, he said, “Jane, this is Paul Jones. Would you like to speak to your father? He’s right here.”
It was a magical moment. The family was reunited and Jane and her baby moved back home.
In the final verse of the Old Testament, we are told that the prophet of God shall “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers