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The Passion of Compassion!




Welcome Back! In our last video we looked at Step 1: “Become a friend to someone totally different from yourself- in politics, race, creed, and class. Moving onto Step 2: we want to seek to understand with compassion and care. Really this is a natural progression from step one where we became a friend to someone totally different from ourselves. Often it is easier to take a step away when we become a bit uncomfortable. We become afraid of people we do not understand. Step 2 is digging in deeper and truly caring with compassion for those we do not understand.


One such example can be found once again in the relationship of Laura with Willis and Elsie Hamilton. Following the Erysipelas plague of 1845, the Hamilton’s, returned to support the Haviland family. Willis came to repay the kindness that Laura and Charles had given to his family. The Hamilton’s had decided to stay in the United States rather than fleeing to Canada because their two little girls were still caught in slavery in Tennessee by Elsie’s slave holders, Tom & his father John Chester. Willis had received his free papers from Deacon Bayliss, a fine Christian man who had provided cover for Elsie when the Chesters had planned to sell her “down the river” away from her family. The Hamiltons tried but to no avail to escape with two of their small girls. Brokenhearted their hearts longed to hear something about the well being of their girls. Willis immediately asked Laura if she would help write a letter to their friend Deacon Bayliss. “No way!” Laura exclaimed. “It would be a trap! Out of desperation, they turned to another friend to write a letter on their behalf. Meanwhile Laura had a very, specific dream of three poisonous green viper snakes popping out near a fire, hissing and threatening her. After telling Elsie of her dream, Elsie forced Willis to tell Laura about a letter that had arrived from the good Deacon. He had news about the two girls, but unfortunately the sad news was their dear friend Deacon Bayliss was desperately ill. He, along with his Doctor Taylor asked to meet with Willis & Elsie in Toledo, Ohio. There they could share the news regarding the girls with them. Begging Laura to respond to the Deacon’s letter, she continued to refuse. Laura never trusted a postmark from the slave state of Tennessee and told Willis so. Laura felt very grave about their imminent danger but chose to remain calm. Several days later a stranger appeared in the area searching for slaves, and then three days later this note came for Willis from Deacon Bayliss saying his death could be soon and that he would have every train watched for the Hamilton’s arrival. Sharing it with Laura, she exclaimed: “I smell a rat!”


Willis was determined to make the trip to Toledo while Laura and a neighbor persuaded him to stay home. In the middle of these concerns, a scheme was born and all parties agreed to it. Laura and her son Daniel would go instead, along with another young black man who fit the description of Willis as a decoy.


Taking the train from Adrian to Toledo, their travel was filled with high drama and danger. Laura went into the Toledo Hotel to share her message with the dying deacon and skillfully interact in a drama that she would retell hundreds of times in what turned out to be a comedy of errors. Proceeding with the dying deacon’s narrative, she played the role of a nurse who had come in place of the Hamilton’s to attend to his physical needs. Taking the man’s pulse who did not fit the description Willis had given for the deacon, she found her suspicions to be true. His pulse was strong and regular, that of a healthy man. This was the moment she realized that she was alone at the midnight hour within the enemy’s camp, face to face with human traffickers.

Laura cried out to God for wisdom. Quick thinking, she agreed to send a telegram to the Hamilton’s asking them to come right away to Toledo to fulfill the wish of their dying deacon friend. After writing their request, she added a few lines to help provide adequate clothing for Elsie which Elsie would know was completely inadequate. Thankfully the slaveholders fell for this little ploy and freed her. They sent the telegram by courier rider and set her free. Early the next morning Laura boarded the train from Toledo, OH back to Adrian, MI only to find the three slave holders trying to board the train as well.


Barely avoiding a direct confrontation, the train left the depot only to be stopped ten miles down the road at Sylvania, when the three slaveholders climbed on the train and held Haviland at gunpoint. John Chester drew his revolver from his pocket with his son doing the same and he roared out, “We will be here for three weeks and before we leave, we will have our property that you have in your possession” (along with several expletives). In a quiet calm, resolve Laura replied, “Man, I fear neither thy weapons nor thy threats. They are powerless!

And as for thy property, I have none of it about me or on my premises.”

Just then the conductor on the train appeared and scared them off the train by calling for the law man. The three Southerners fled the train, disappearing into the thickets, hissing and threatening just like those three poisonous green viper snakes in her dream.


Laura shared great compassion and care for the Hamilton family. She expended great energy to protect these dear ones in her care. There are many safe and simple ways to show care and concern without placing anyone in danger. Though it is true that developing relationships and caring for another can always be a risk, there is nothing greater than caring and making a difference in someone’s life. I had this type of a relationship with my friend Donna. Donna was a neighbor that attended the church I served. I enjoyed visiting with Donna. She had such a zest for life unless she was under the influence of alcohol. She went through rehab several times and it was always her desire to stay sober. Donna had been a slave to the demon of alcohol for several decades in her life… Her health soon spiraled out of control. Whether I was visiting her in the hospital or in jail, Donna was always kind and appreciative.


Donna accepted Christ at a woman’s retreat, and it was such a joy for me to pray with her during this time. She loved her family deeply and asked me to pray that they too would come to the Lord. Though several of us worked hard to help support her new walk with the Lord, her body was a victim to the many years of addiction Unfortunately, Donna did not live too much longer after her decision for Christ. I can still see her smiling face; and I am so thankful for the lessons I learned from Donna. She taught me that deep pain walks with many people in our world, and that if we will just reach out with a hand of friendship, we can bring hope and joy into their lives. Do we truly show compassion and care? If not, we are the ones missing out on the joy and beauty caring for another can bring.


How can you take a risk to show compassion and care for someone? Can you stir up some good trouble this week by reaching out to someone in need? This is your homework assignment. I would love to hear comments from you either here or on my website at www.undergroundangel.net.




Welcome Back! Today we are looking at Step 2 of Good Trouble from Laura Haviland's perspective. So first let's review! Step 1: “Become a friend to someone totally different from yourself- in politics, race, creed, and class. Moving onto Step 2: we want to seek to understand with compassion and care. Really this is a natural progression from step one where we became a friend to someone totally different from ourselves. Often it is easier to take a step away when we become a bit uncomfortable. We become afraid of people we do not understand. Step 2 is digging in deeper and truly caring with compassion for those we do not understand.


One such example can be found once again in the relationship of Laura with Willis and Elsie Hamilton. Following the Erysipelas plague of 1845, the Hamilton’s, returned to support the Haviland family. Willis came to repay the kindness that Laura and Charles had given to his family. The Hamilton’s had decided to stay in the United States rather than fleeing to Canada because their two little girls were still caught in slavery in Tennessee by Elsie’s slave holders, Tom & his father John Chester. Willis had received his free papers from Deacon Bayliss, a fine Christian man who had provided cover for Elsie when the Chesters had planned to sell her “down the river” away from her family. The Hamiltons tried but to no avail to escape with two of their small girls. Brokenhearted their hearts longed to hear something about the well being of their girls. Willis immediately asked Laura if she would help write a letter to their friend Deacon Bayliss. “No way!” Laura exclaimed. “It would be a trap! Out of desperation, they turned to another friend to write a letter on their behalf. Meanwhile Laura had a very, specific dream of three poisonous green viper snakes popping out near a fire, hissing and threatening her. After telling Elsie of her dream, Elsie forced Willis to tell Laura about a letter that had arrived from the good Deacon. He had news about the two girls, but unfortunately the sad news was their dear friend Deacon Bayliss was desperately ill. He, along with his Doctor Taylor asked to meet with Willis & Elsie in Toledo, Ohio. There they could share the news regarding the girls with them. Begging Laura to respond to the Deacon’s letter, she continued to refuse. Laura never trusted a postmark from the slave state of Tennessee and told Willis so. Laura felt very grave about their imminent danger but chose to remain calm. Several days later a stranger appeared in the area searching for slaves, and then three days later this note came for Willis from Deacon Bayliss saying his death could be soon and that he would have every train watched for the Hamilton’s arrival. Sharing it with Laura, she exclaimed: “I smell a rat!”


Willis was determined to make the trip to Toledo while Laura and a neighbor persuaded him to stay home. In the middle of these concerns, a scheme was born and all parties agreed to it. Laura and her son Daniel would go instead, along with another young black man who fit the description of Willis as a decoy.


Taking the train from Adrian to Toledo, their travel was filled with high drama and danger. Laura went into the Toledo Hotel to share her message with the dying deacon and skillfully interact in a drama that she would retell hundreds of times in what turned out to be a comedy of errors. Proceeding with the dying deacon’s narrative, she played the role of a nurse who had come in place of the Hamilton’s to attend to his physical needs. Taking the man’s pulse who did not fit the description Willis had given for the deacon, she found her suspicions to be true. His pulse was strong and regular, that of a healthy man. This was the moment she realized that she was alone at the midnight hour within the enemy’s camp, face to face with human traffickers.

Laura cried out to God for wisdom. Quick thinking, she agreed to send a telegram to the Hamilton’s asking them to come right away to Toledo to fulfill the wish of their dying deacon friend. After writing their request, she added a few lines to help provide adequate clothing for Elsie which Elsie would know was completely inadequate. Thankfully the slaveholders fell for this little ploy and freed her. They sent the telegram by courier rider and set her free. Early the next morning Laura boarded the train from Toledo, OH back to Adrian, MI only to find the three slave holders trying to board the train as well.


Barely avoiding a direct confrontation, the train left the depot only to be stopped ten miles down the road at Sylvania, when the three slaveholders climbed on the train and held Haviland at gunpoint. John Chester drew his revolver from his pocket with his son doing the same and he roared out, “We will be here for three weeks and before we leave, we will have our property that you have in your possession” (along with several expletives). In a quiet calm, resolve Laura replied, “Man, I fear neither thy weapons nor thy threats. They are powerless!

And as for thy property, I have none of it about me or on my premises.”

Just then the conductor on the train appeared and scared them off the train by calling for the law man. The three Southerners fled the train, disappearing into the thickets, hissing and threatening just like those three poisonous green viper snakes in her dream.


Laura shared great compassion and care for the Hamilton family. She expended great energy to protect these dear ones in her care. There are many safe and simple ways to show care and concern without placing anyone in danger. Though it is true that developing relationships and caring for another can always be a risk, there is nothing greater than caring and making a difference in someone’s life. I had this type of a relationship with my friend Donna. Donna was a neighbor that attended the church I served. I enjoyed visiting with Donna. She had such a zest for life unless she was under the influence of alcohol. She went through rehab several times and it was always her desire to stay sober. Donna had been a slave to the demon of alcohol for several decades in her life… Her health soon spiraled out of control. Whether I was visiting her in the hospital or in jail, Donna was always kind and appreciative.


Donna accepted Christ at a woman’s retreat, and it was such a joy for me to pray with her during this time. She loved her family deeply and asked me to pray that they too would come to the Lord. Though several of us worked hard to help support her new walk with the Lord, her body was a victim to the many years of addiction Unfortunately, Donna did not live too much longer after her decision for Christ. I can still see her smiling face; and I am so thankful for the lessons I learned from Donna. She taught me that deep pain walks with many people in our world, and that if we will just reach out with a hand of friendship, we can bring hope and joy into their lives. Do we truly show compassion and care? If not, we are the ones missing out on the joy and beauty caring for another can bring.


How can you take a risk to show compassion and care for someone? Can you stir up some good trouble this week by reaching out to someone in need? This is your homework assignment. I would love to hear comments from you either here or on my website at www.undergroundangel.net.





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