Here is a story, reported to be true, about a nine-year-old boy who lived in a rural town in Tennessee. His house was in a poor area of the community. A church there had a bus ministry that came knocking on his door one Saturday afternoon. The child came to answer the door and greeted the bus Pastor. The bus Pastor asked if his parents were home and the small boy told him that his parents take off every weekend and leave him at home to take care of his little brother.
The bus Pastor could not believe what the child said and asked him to repeat it. The youngster gave the same answer and the bus Pastor asked to come in and talk with him. They went into the living room and sat down on an old couch with the foam and springs exposed. The bus Pastor asked the child, “Where do you go to church?” The young boy surprised the visitor by replying, “I’ve never been to church in my whole life.” The bus Pastor thought to himself about the fact that his church was less than three miles from the child’s house. “Are you sure you’ve never been to church?” he asked again. “I’m sure I haven’t”, came his answer.
Then the bus Pastor said, “Well, son, more important than going to church, have you ever heard the greatest love story ever told?” and then he proceeded to share the Gospel with this little nine-year-old boy. The young lad’s heart began to be tenderized and at the end of the bus Pastor’s story, the bus pastor asked if the boy wanted to receive this free gift from God. The youngster exclaimed, “OF COURSE!” The child and the bus Pastor got on their knees and the lad invited Jesus into his heart and received the free gift of salvation.
They both stood up and the bus Pastor asked if he could pick the child up for church the next morning. “Sure,” the nine-year-old replied. The bus Pastor got to the house early the next morning and found the lights off. He let himself in, snaked his way through the house, and found the little boy asleep in his bed. He woke up the little boy and his brother and helped them get dressed. They got on the bus and ate a doughnut for breakfast on their way to church.
Keep in mind that this little boy had never been to church before. The church was a real big one. The little child just sat there, clueless of what was going on. A few minutes into the service, these tall unhappy guys walked down to the front and picked up some wooden plates. One of the men prayed and the child, with utter fascination, watched them walk up and down the aisles. He still did not know what was going on. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, it hit the child what was taking place. These people must be giving money to Jesus. He then reflected on the free gift of life he had received just twenty-four hours earlier. He immediately searched his pockets, front and back, and could not find a thing to give to Jesus.
By this time the offering plate was being passed down his aisle and, with a broken heart; he just grabbed the plate and held on to it. He finally let it go and watched it pass on down the aisle. He turned around to see it passed down the aisle behind him. And then his eyes remained glued on the plate as it was passed back and forth, back and forth all the way to the rear of the sanctuary.
Then he had an idea. This little nine-year-old boy, in front of God and everybody, got up out of his seat. He walked about eight rows back, grabbed the usher by the coat, and asked to hold the plate one more time. Then he did the most astounding thing I have ever heard of. He took the plate, sat it on the carpeted church floor, and stepped into the center of it. As he stood there, he lifted his little head up and said “Jesus, I don’t have anything to give you today, but just me. I give you me!”