Have you ever felt compelled to help a stranger? In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, we’re often so wrapped up in our own problems that we become blind to the struggles of others. Life is just so busy. Between the big responsibilities, like work and family, and the little ones, like going to the grocery store or stopping for gas, we’re often moving so fast that we don’t even notice those in need.
On a freezing day in Apple Valley, Michigan, however, Nicole Marie Heintz saw something that made her heart stop. Standing beside a gas pump and sobbing his eyes out was a middle-aged man, with nothing to protect his feet from the 10-degree weather but a pair of flip-flops and socks full of holes. Nicole looked inside his car, where a woman sat in the passenger seat, covering her face with her hands and crying. In the backseat were two teenage girls, huddled under a blanket.
Nicole knew she had to help in any way she could. Without a second thought, she approached the man and asked what was wrong. His heartbreaking reply? “I can’t provide for my family.” What Nicole did next is something everyone should hear. It’s gone viral for the best possible reason – that is, a reminder to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Here’s the full story, in Nicole’s own words:
“So I was just on my way to work and I had to stop for gas, so I allowed myself some extra time to get to work. When I pulled up to the pump, I shut my car off and saw this middle-aged man crying and looking at the gas pump. I began to wonder what happened with this man, and as I got out of my car and looked at him my heart felt like it stopped.”
“In Apple Valley, Minnesota it is 10 degrees and freezing cold with the wind. This man was wearing flip-flops with socks covered in holes. I look at his car and see his wife in the front seat covering her face in her hands and two teenage girls, both cuddling under a blanket in the backseat.”
“I didn’t even think and I went up to the man and said, ‘sir, is something the matter?’ He looked at me and I could tell he was on the verge of giving up because he didn’t even try to conceal his tears when he said, ‘I can’t even provide for my family.’ Without even thinking I put my card in his machine and told him ‘Jesus Christ the Son of God died to provide for you. Fill up.’ Something came alive in him. He was in shock and it was like he forgot how to pump gas.”
“In that same moment, his wife got out of her car, she asked her husband what was going on and he told her I just paid for their gas; she started to cry and came around the corner to shake my hand when I saw her pants dirty and torn. I asked her to come to my car. The airport lost some of my luggage on my way to Minnesota from California and I had to clean out my closet to find stuff to wear and get rid of a lot of stuff, and all of that stuff that I had yet to give away was sitting in the back seat of the car and in the trunk. I opened up my car and told the lady to take what she wanted.”
“This lady RAN back to her car. I was so afraid I had just [embarrassed] her, but a moment later her and her two girls were digging through those clothes layering my sweatshirts and shirts and sweat pants over the worn-out clothes they had been wearing.”
“Soon the father had finished pumping the gas and came over. This attracted a little crowd at the gas station. And some older man gave the family a gift card and another middle-aged man gave away his jacket to the father. Never in my life did I think I would see this kind of thing happen at a gas station with a handful of complete strangers.”
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