A homeless man from Columbus, Ohio, became an overnight sensation this week when a YouTube video of him went viral. He is 53 year old Ted Williams who has been living on the street for 17 years. He was video taped by a news paper reporter as he stood at a freeway access holding a sign that read:
“I have a God given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatfully (sp) appreciated J Thank you and God bless you. Happy Holidays.”
Before this video hundreds of people drove by him every day but never took his gift seriously. “I drive by this guy every day. . . my mind is blown. . . I’ve seen this guy!” one person writes. Another said “I saw him on the corner two weeks ago! . . . but I was scared . . . lol . . .should have stopped.” Needless to say he is no longer on that corner. Yesterday he was in New York City announcing the intro to NBC’s Today program and being interviewed by their entire crew. Job offers are flooding in.
This feel-good story of the year is full of lessons and illustrations. It is literally a rags to riches story. It is a story of faith and second-chance redemption. It is a story of reconciliation. It gives us insight into the plight of the homeless. It teaches us again, so poignantly, that we cannot judge a person by appearances. It underscores the destructiveness of drug and alcohol addiction. We can learn a lot from this story.
But what impacts me most about this turn-around story is the release of a God-given gift. In reality, Ted’s redemption happened because he came to a reckoning with God about the talent he had been given.
He recognized what a gift he had, acknowledged God as the giver and sought to re-engage it in serving humanity.