A certain man while walking along a highway was attacked by some
thieves, who beat him terribly and robbed him. Then they left him
wounded and bleeding along the side of the road.
By chance there came a charismatic Catholic and a reformed Jew walking
along that way. When they saw the man, they passed by on the other side.
Likewise, a bible-toting Baptist, a proud to be "full-Gospel"
Pentecostal, a "word-walking" plain-old Protestant, and even a couple of
New Age Unitarian Universal existentialists happened along, while on
their way to an inter-faith community leaders conference. As each one in
turn came upon the man and saw him lying helplessly beside the highway,
all passed by on the other side.
However, a certain Samaritan as he was walking came to where the injured
man was, and when he saw him he had compassion on him. Being on foot and
without any means or provisions to render aid, the Samaritan ran two
miles to the nearest public telephone and hurriedly dialed 911.
Because funding for the police, paramedic and fire rescue services had
all been drastically cut, being woefully under-staffed there was no unit
available to send, especially not to such an out-of-the-way place. The
emergency dispatcher immediately gave the sympathetic Samaritan a
referral list of private ambulance companies to contact.
One-by-one the Samaritan called each of the ambulance companies, but all
required a cash deposit prior to actual transport of the patient, which
they would be happy to charge to the "financially responsible party" on
any valid American Express, MasterCharge or Visa Card. In lieu of a cash
deposit, only a limited number of health insurance plans were accepted,
providing they could obtain prior authorization from the health care
provider for ambulance services (but no HMO's or PPO's).
In vain, the Samaritan tried to explain that the thieves had stripped
the man naked and left him penniless without his wallet; there was no
way to show proof of health care coverage even if he had any! The
Samaritan was praised and verbally applauded for his valiant efforts to
act as an advocate on the injured man's behalf, but since he was unable
to secure the required deposit, he was politely refused service. The
Samaritan was told not to worry himself any more about the victimized
man. Someone else has probably already come along and, seeing the man's
plight, provided assistance.
Not to be thwarted in his effort to get help for the badly injured and
hopelessly stranded stranger, the Samaritan hurried off in the direction
of the nearest town. With an air of expectancy he entered the first
establishment he found, which was a "rental-car" agency. Although all he
wanted to do was get the fallen traveler into town as quickly as
possible, as soon as the rental car clerk learned why the Samaritan
wanted to rent one of their cars, he immediately turned the Samaritan
away citing the regulatory terms of the "liability coverage" on their
entire fleet, which strictly prohibited the use of any of their vehicles
to transport the handicapped or disabled. Their insurance contract also
prohibited use of rental vehicles for commuter transport or car pools.
Even though the Samaritan patiently explained that none of these
exclusions were applicable in this case, the apprehensive desk clerk
insisted there was nothing he could do. According to company policy the
matter required the approval of the office manager, who would not be
available until the following Monday morning; but if he'd like to leave
his name and number, he would ask the manager to get back to him as soon
Seeing that any further attempt to reason with the clerk would be
futile, the Samaritan sighed deeply to himself as he left the rental
agency and hurried down the street to the local drug store to buy some
first aid items with which he could temporarily treat the bleeding man's
wounds. Once he finally reached the register, to his utter dismay, the
Samaritan was astonished to learn that without a major credit card or
bank check guarantee card, (regardless of how urgent the circumstances
were) without proper identification, the drugstore clerk (according to
their store policy) steadfastly refused to accept his out-of-town check.
The Samaritan could not even purchase necessary bandages or ointment for
the injured man's wounds. In desperation the Samaritan traded his coat
with the merchant for a box of Band-Aids and some antiseptic swabs.
It was with a heavy heart that the Samaritan began his return journey on
foot. The irony served to reinforce his determination to get back to the
On his way through town the Samaritan spotted a congenial looking
community church. Thank God, he thought as hope sprang up in his heart.
Here he knew he would find "like-minded people" who would lend a helping
hand. The Samaritan hurried up the steps and knocked on the office door.
With the pastor's help and the church's van, he thought, we'll be able
to get to the injured man before dark!
In the pastor's comfortable study, the Samaritan listened silently as
the pastor (while patting the Samaritan frequently on the shoulder)
explained how he'd really like to help the poor fellow who was injured,
but unfortunately it was entirely out of his hands. In a recent vote,
the church council members had unanimously decided that church's new
maxi-van was to be exclusively reserved for "group functions" of the
church membership only.
The Pastor enthusiastically commended the Samaritan for wanting to help
the man. He expressed his utmost admiration for the Samaritan's
compassion and lavished a steady stream of compliments upon him
concerning his Christian zeal, as he slowly but deliberately ushered the
Samaritan to the door. While insisting he was not insensitive to the
injured man's plight, the pastor applauded the Samaritan's willingness
to take up "the man's cause," but he didn't think he or his church
should get involved... who knows what kind of liabilities there might
Once again the Samaritan was turned away. The pastor apologetically
handed the Samaritan a list of various other city, county, and public
health agencies that he thought would be better suited to this
After searching from dusk until after dark, the Samaritan finally
relocated the body of the mortally wounded man, laying in a ditch beside
the highway. Chasing away stray dogs which had come to lick the bleeding
wounds, the Samaritan stood quietly beside the now lifeless corpse.
Prolonged exposure to the elements had been more than his beaten body
could bear. Bending down beside the bruised and broken body, the loving
Samaritan put out His nail-scarred hand and gently closed the dead man's
eyes... while tenderly caressing the man's battered face -- Jesus wept.