Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: The Down-and-Up Cafe
By Lamar Taylor
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Mike asked if I’d noticed the name of the café. “It used to be called the Up-and-Down café,” he said, “but there’s no one left who knows how it got that name. Brad Fletcher bought it about 15 years ago and renamed it the Down-and-Up Café. It’s his story you need to hear.”
“Brad’s father was an abusive alcoholic, but his mother was a strong Christian. Despite his difficult home life, Brad graduated at the top of his high school class. He went to college and became a very successful architect. After several years with an architectural firm, he started his own very successful company. He also married his college sweetheart, Heather, and they had three children.
“Brad was enjoying the good life,” Mike stated. “Model family, great business and home, actively involved in the community and his church.”
“But,” I interjected, “something happened.”
“His partner embezzled several hundred thousand dollars from the company. When Brad found out, the partner skipped town with the money. Brad had to declare bankruptcy and close his business He got his old job back, but he was not the same after that. Eventually, he started drinking, something he vowed he would never do. He wasn’t going to be like his dad. In his drunken stupors, he became abusive, just like his dad.
“Brad lost his job, and his wife left him and filed for divorce. The only job he could get after that was as a custodian, reduced from designing luxury homes to cleaning toilets.
“Brad had custody of their kids every other weekend. On one particular weekend Brad had only his daughter, Amy. On Saturday, they went to the zoo, a favorite place for her. She loved animals and wanted a career working with wildlife. They had a great time, but Brad had a hard time staying awake because he’d been on a binge the night before.
“On the way home, Brad had a hard time staying awake. Amy’s scream jolted him awake. He had veered over into the opposite lane. They were hit head-on by an on-coming vehicle.
“Brad woke up in the hospital not knowing where he was or what had happened. His pastor, Tim, came to visit him that evening and told Brad about the crash. He told Brad that Amy was in ICU, not expected to live through the night. That news sent Brad into despair. Had he killed his own daughter?
“And to make matters worse, he couldn’t visit Amy because of his injuries, and, besides that, Heather had ordered him to stay away. He didn’t know what to do. He’d really made a mess of things. “It should be me in ICU, not Amy.” His pastor told him to pray and trust the Lord, but Brad hadn’t prayed since he lost his family and his business.
“After he was released from the hospital, he came back here and bought the café. He’d learned to cook as a boy and decided he could make a living at it.”
“Wait a minute,” I protested.. “What happened to Amy?”
About that time, a young woman in a wheel chair came into the cafe followed by 3 small children. A grey-haired man came limping from the kitchen. “Grandpa!” The kids rushed to meet him.
Mike continued. “That’s Amy…and her dad. Alone in the hospital, and desperate, Brad asked God to spare Amy’s life. He figured she’d hate him. Wasn’t that what he deserved? He also began to help others who were down and out. Over the years, he’s helped more people than I can keep track of. Now you know why he renamed the café.”
Remembering her interest in wildlife, I said, “I suppose Amy never got to work with wildlife.”
“She got a degree in wildlife management and is a wildlife biologist for the US Forest Service. She also married a pastor, and they have a ministry to the disabled.”
“Wow!” was all I could say as I was once again awed by God’s love and grace. But isn’t it His business to bring triumph out of tragedy?
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