By Sam Fink
At about 8:00 pm on the evening of November 27, 2012, I heard a few voices outside of my house; one of them was yelling. Being new to the neighborhood and having grown up on the vibrant streets of downtown Ypsilanti, I shrugged off the noise and continued with the impossible task of folding a queen-sized fitted sheet.
About forty five minutes later, it was not voices we heard, but a hard knock at our door. It was a Washtenaw County Sherriff’s officer who was obviously cold, and concerned. He asked if he could come in. We took care of the standard formalities, and he began to ask me questions about whether or not I had seen or heard anything unusual in the hour or so before his visit.
“I heard some shouting outside a little while ago,” I told him. He asked for more details about what I heard and where I thought it was. Eventually, he explained to me why he had stopped by.
It was a Washtenaw County Sherriff’s officer who was obviously cold, and concerned.
It turns out that while my wife Kelsey and I sat in our living room watching TV, a young man and his girlfriend were having an argument a few doors down. They were sitting in a car in front of his mother’s house, where the young woman was attempting to break off their relationship. He was apparently not ready for it to end, and before long, he started to hit her.
It was terrible. She was beaten, stabbed, and shoved into the trunk of her own car. She was lucky enough to stop the trunk from closing entirely and climb out, only to be run over by the car that he was now trying to drive away. Eventually, she was able to get away from him long enough to look for help.
She reported to police that she had limped up and down the street knocking on doors, looking for help. As I understand it, she came as far as our next door neighbor’s door but had doubled back before coming to ours.
Nobody was answering their door. It seems that even the neighbors who were home were so taken aback by her appearance and hysteria that they didn’t let her in. That is, until she made it to Austin Thomason’s door.
It seems that even the neighbors who were home were so taken aback by her appearance and hysteria that they didn’t let her in.
You may know Austin from St. Luke, where he has played drums for 10 years, or from ULC, where he attends about half the time. Austin has been one of my closest friends for the better part of a decade and was one of the major deciding factors for us when moving into the neighborhood. The fact that my wife agreed to move buy a house just 5 doors down from my best friend should indicate to you just how awesome she is and–as we were reminded that cold night in November–just how awesome Austin is.
So this woman, having been yelled at, beaten, stabbed, shoved in a trunk, and run over by a car, finally made her way to Austin’s house. Hearing her feeble knock, Austin opened his door and immediately began to help. Beckoning her in, he wrapped her in a blanket, gave her water, and got on the phone with police. Austin was not concerned with the inherent danger at hand, only this young woman’s obvious need for help.
Putting himself in harm’s way, Austin wasted no time, and as a result he likely saved her life. His actions so impressed her that at one point in the following months she referred to him as her “guardian angel.”
Austin was not concerned with the inherent danger at hand, only this young woman’s obvious need for help.
It was not only this young woman who was impressed, however, and in August Austin was presented with the “Citizen Award of Valor” by the Washtenaw County Sherriff’s Office. He can be seen in the photo with Sheriff Jerry Clayton just after receiving this award.
In addition to this, his selfless actions have left a lasting impression on his friends and family. I know that I have been encouraged to critically consider the spiritual implications of his actions.
The Bible has a lot to say about caring for those in need. From Christ’s commandment to love one another, to Proverbs’ mention of those who are generous to the poor, we are consistently encouraged, instructed, and commanded to care for our neighbor. One of my favorites is found in Matthew 10:8 where Jesus tells us to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”
From Christ’s commandment to love one another, to Proverbs’ mention of those who are generous to the poor, we are consistently encouraged, instructed, and commanded to care for our neighbor.
A few weeks ago, when speaking on the subject of Lazarus and the Rich Man, Pastor Scott Giger emphasized that “Jesus is challenging us every day.” On November 27, Austin rose to the challenge of faithfully trusting in Him. There was nothing for Austin to gain that day, and he freely gave anyway.
In light of the whole life or death story that played out just down the street from my house, my prayer is that I will recognize my daily challenges, rising to them with selfless action, sacrifice, and a will to give without pay, just as I have received.
There was nothing for Austin to gain that day, and he freely gave anyway.