Robert Hamm is one of the most Christ-like persons I know. He was my preacher when I was a kid. He modeled over and over how to love God and others in our little church in Dewey, Oklahoma.
So I was pleased when he came to visit us in Uganda a few years ago. Robert and his wife, Loretta, visited the village churches we worked with and showed much love and goodness to many families in the villages, including our friends Cathy and Wako Wilson, Moses and Zipora Kirya, and a man named Sauti.
When Robert saw Sauti’s shredded pants dangling from his waist, he decided to give the man a pair of pants right then and there. Was there a market close by? No. We were nearly two hours into the bush and had driven the last hour on dirt roads.
“I’ll bring him a pair another day,” I said, brushing off his suggestion. But Robert insisted.
Robert is a compassionate and kind man. Robert would give you the shirt off his back . . . or his pants. At first I thought Robert was kidding when he suggested going to the pickup, slipping off his trousers, and giving them to Sauti. My thoughts bounced around, wondering whether Robert was wearing briefs or boxers.
Did he remember that we drove two hours out here, and that driving in one’s underwear tends to make two-hour trips seem like ten hours?
He went to the truck and took off his trousers and handed them out the window to me. He stayed in the truck until we left a few minutes later, and as we drove off, Sauti was grinning, a proud owner of Robert’s breeches.
The thirty onlookers were as amazed as I was, that a respected elder American man such as Robert would serve a poor village man by giving him his pants on the spot.
Ten years from now, someone will ask Sauti, “Remember that white man who left here in his drawers because he gave you his pants? Where are those pants anyway? What? Those torn up pants are the ones he gave you?!”
Then Sauti might say, “The pants didn’t last, but I’ll never forget what Robert did for me that day . . . that will last forever.”