Share This Episode
Focus on the Family Jim Daly Logo

A Man Called Norman (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
October 29, 2020 6:00 am

A Man Called Norman (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 840 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

October 29, 2020 6:00 am

On this classic program, a favorite among Focus on the Family listeners, Mike Adkins tells the humorous and poignant story of his efforts to befriend and share the Gospel with his neighbor Norman, a social misfit who was mocked by virtually everybody in their small town. You’ll hear how God not only changed Norman, but also changed Mike! (Part 1 of 2) (Original airdate: Sept. 5, 1984)

Get a CD of today's broadcast for your donation of any amount:

Get more episode resources:

If you've listened to any of our podcasts, please give us your feedback:

Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Moody Church Hour
Erwin Lutzer

This seasons of your life are always moving forward, marriage, parenting, aging well and threw it all. Focus on the Family is with you 24 seven. Download the Focus on the Family app today from the apps Google play. I did what everybody else did. I couldn't seem to get a room. We didn't talk about to them about Jesus. I've always wondered why I thought well I guess it's because of somebody sold me talking to him, they might think I'm a strange is today on Focus on the Family were featuring a message about reaching out to a lonely person and offering them the priceless gift of friendship and the love of Jesus Christ.

It's not always an easy journey. This is Focus on the Family with your post books president Dr. Jim Daly John Fuller and I think all of us can relate to the idea of only this might have been lonely when he went off to college or trade school or moved to a new community that's happened to me. Maybe the coronavirus has isolated you and your feeling like you really miss that daily interaction with coworkers when you're at home and you're just not seeing people. Or maybe you're unemployed and there's nobody to really talk with. Now imagine if that loneliness isn't a temporary circumstance but a condition that goes on for years and years. That's the kind of situation will hear about today with one of our all-time favorite broadcasts.

We have a unique twist for you at the end as well. John, as you talked about the loneliness there. It made me think about people in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers who haven't been able to see their family for months because of the coronavirus pandemic and they are suffering from that isolation and depression rates and even suicide cases have skyrocketed. But even before the huge changes that the coronavirus wrought there were statistics showing that 60% of people in nursing homes never received visitors they've either outlived their friends and family or have been forgotten and that just breaks my heart, yet so sad to see that happening. In fact my wife before coronavirus had made friends with quite a few of the ladies at the assisted living center where her mom's days and visitors were pretty rare then.

And certainly, of course. Now these residents seem so lonely, but Dena really has enjoyed their company and I can't help but think that that scenario is multiplied among senior citizens, whether they're at home or in a facility and let me say if you are struggling with isolation and loneliness. No matter what your age or where your living Focus on the Family is here for you. You are our brothers and sisters in Christ were all part of the same family. The family of God.

And if there's anything we can do for you please give us a call. Would love to pray with you over the phone and encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

Our number is 880 family that's 800-232-6459 and I hope today's program. A man called Norman will inspire you to reach out to someone in your community. This is one of the very first speech is Focus on the Family ever aired way back in 1984 and it's one of the most requested broadcasts of all time.

In fact, we sent out over 40,000 copies of this two day presentation on either cassette CD or the audio download. It's been very popular throughout the years and I'm sure some of our listeners have a copy of it somewhere in their library where I'm always amazed by the response we hear back after it airs.

We get stories from all over the world literally of people who looked around, found a lonely person in their neighborhood and try to reach out like our guest Mike Atkins did and really might just simply became the hands and feet of Jesus to a crotchety old neighbor who was really an outcast.

The hermit of their neighborhood and it's wonderful to hear how this man.

Norman responded as Mitch and John were going to change things up a bit.

Were going to call our guest Mike Atkins at the end of the show, next time to get an update from him and little bit of background about Mike. He's an evangelist, a singer and songwriter.

He has traveled all over the world and has recorded number of music albums including bestseller called. Thank you for the dove. He's married to Carmel and they have three grown children in a number of grandchildren in here now is Mike Atkins on Focus on the Family. We prayed about what house to buy a house still is that I can work on a fix up like you see in the mind. What this house is like when I got for now, but when I finished starting with a lawn on the front there was an old tree that had rotted and filled and I was going fill in that little hole in the ground just there still a bit of stuff doesn't cut that out. Feel the holy and make it nice and smooth. I forgot since we prayed I forgot to check first to see who lived around me because I trusted the spirit of God, he would take care of things like that and want to run around the house.

A ball was a Catholic couple their family and all my right, just backwards on the right was Catholic couple was a retired Methodist preacher, we became dear friends Street was a little lady and her is the one I want to tell you that it was leased to look at houses that we have fell in our town used to laugh at not everybody will meet you and the kids with the time he was weird.

This fellow's name was Norman six-foot to their backs and felt looking half as much dirt knowledge couldn't tell what it looked like originally overalls that we disagree so he had no issues around town and sometimes rubber glasses. They just flop 20 willbe like this is not the talk is any anything at all over Main Street and people say please wear all the house across the street from where the bushes were grown up in the old chocolate paint was fall off the house and the windows were so filthy and I think about their first day that I was working almost trees to fix the yard and my coveralls barefoot my wife and kids are going to store something I'm doing around the trees sold out over there. He walked out of the house and saw that he lived there all know house across the street from you. I don't know exactly what you hear a lot of rumors, but he got two daughters and he's straight means. My thought steam came down to the sidewalk in Tampa somewhere, and I said he looked at me and took off down the street same tree stump. He came out again.

This time he cannot work on his lawnmower in the backyard something was wrong with it wouldn't run. He worked with, discuss, and I was watching my really strange and then he did something that I'll never forget fraternity. He stood up as tall as he could he look like the Incredible Hulk. He raised his arms, he looked at me.

He glared at me and he ran from the back of his yard work and just see mountainside house down the side of the house right at me stop in at his side will praise God he ran at me and screamed at the top of his. He went my heart was my brother. Loneliness shot and our members say no to love everybody but stopped his sidewalk every time. Three times he did that three times he stopped, his son. Suddenly, the presence of the Lord settled all over me. I didn't expect. I was surprised by it, but it settled all over me and when it did. It seemed a confidence what the right work not only possessed begin to well up in me and I did something that surprised even me. I got up barefoot coveralls walked across the street and walked up to Norman in his backyard last line.

I said that you having trouble with your lawnmower.

Norman, he looked at me and he said you having trouble with your lawnmower. Norman said no spark plug tightened screw do. I don't know anything about prayed and pulled it open.

It ran like it been the repair shop just any did something for the first time I saw when he grinned real big. I saw a green and yellow tooth right here and spectacle Seattle look like they were thinking and whiskers and after that every time you come out the house and say hi Norman you go and then you take off down the street. What's the matter would Norman always in the barbershop units we find things in 10 small town in 1000 Norman was hit by Greyhound bus is not at all what was he was brilliant. He was a genius. He was such a genius that he is mind exploded one day what he's talking about a teacher once it only knew I didn't but he did but he he come to class every day is bringing his tie, turned inside out like that was from too much and maybe that's what problems and care about all that he said to me you beginning to put a little seed of the seed of seed way down here deep in my heart for the first time he said witness Jesus. One night after church. It is tradition in our town to go to Dairy Queen but in town.

Everybody's church just what they did in those days was a trance and the scene was always the same first 20 minutes of us got there first got there.

I scream sitdown 25 minutes as they followed and they got there next one I'm family fine. I was church always interested me the same thing they say wonderful never had hurt anybody have a bad service.

By the way, in the Dairy Queen and everybody done it myself on my neighbors.

I would say about myself is not scream or not everybody in the middle. Thank you because it's his ice cream cone. He always sits there running the same seat and every Christian in the place, especially, who travels around the country lifting up Jesus and sang and rushed over to him and getting the four spiritual laws, no, I did what everybody else did. I didn't seem we getting room. We didn't talk about to them about Jesus. I've always wondered why now that I tell the story. I thought well I guess it's because if somebody sold me talking to him, they might think I'm a strange is in the spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said quietly and don't make a show out of it. Go over and telling him about Jesus, pray for me.

I'm a little talking Norman she's getting used to that kind of action, and she's prayed and I went over there and sit down real quick and I said I don't remember who I am.

He said you said Norman this your neighbor. He said he looked at me on the size of the classes Jesus is. He said do you know who Jesus said, people begin to look at Jesus come in your heart and life. He never repeated me for the first time he said of giving serious consideration. I was shocked, nice light of the Lord said 700 extra special good probably won't tonight invite Norman stop is witness to.

He dressed up for so bad he didn't put on different closing string tied to somebody giving comes about like that you come across the street at night and come up the steps and he came in the house.

I got a chair that is light colored gold very light velvet La-Z-Boy love it or crank it out from the television set getting that we can see this is witness to send Norman come on and were really glad to have you night at our house lied here in my chair chair and he wants 700 club he was witness to know I said I cannot sit back and we watched him wants 711. After a while he got up and said very much started out the door and went over and turned the light on form was exceptional, not now come back close the door in the house ran over to my chair chair that wasn't. It was like no, it was clean my wife's trade little bit stuff in the air in the house smelled real good we could been telling in their Lord said, thinking somewhere with you like to will go pick him up. Just a few days later, it was hot weather, but this time he come out with one of the longest wool tweed looking winter coats on you've ever laid eyes on her testing about issues in these big Hollywood like the Grey ghost come out. You need to know me outdoors. It does no. The sun just you and you you know there's a lot of interstates in St. Louis. He kept looking to CB radio financing on it thing here push a button and talk around 14 emails laws around our town for 11 and Ecclesiastes out. The first is the wintertime give him a name given the nickname some grass cutter. He just said hello grass cutter and it was fastening. He got to St. Louis at the moment we parked in the parking area and when we got out of the car I figured out a plan. I said Norman not go in the ballgame with you if you wear that stupid old colt is really afraid.

What somebody think again. I said Norman leaving the car just leaving here. He looked at me and he's studied me to see if I was really that serious, and I was in.

He we faced off for a while and finally begin coat off and when he took it off us all why he was wearing it.

He had on two pair of dress pants that were split both of them all the way up the back supports go back on the ballgame. We turn that turnstile and walked the first guy we saw was a little guy with a T top shorts on right here you have a muscle in his body, but he thought that I like transistor radio had a big cup of something drinking if somebody would be no Norman didn't watch the game at all. He wants the crap 30,000 people in another one of them tomorrow and I getting so peanut Norman but this time I had to leave because it was hot. He was responsive. Just take your coat down and drape it over the seat sometime back room 30 or so he drape it over the seatings much workup.

But now the seventh inning.

We were standing all stretching behind me was going busy busy year mine in the singing in church is on weekend and I still know more about you, vacations, and you want the Lord told me he supposed Norman was on vacation for landlord just and he said Sir I'm tired and couple weeks later was going down the highway.Norman set aside my wife and kids in the back. Something about he was beginning to be relaxed around people. He was beginning to be less nervous and he didn't talk to yourself as much as he had before.

Dr. Landon and I found the cars. Here's how the work pushed better and have a good time getting there. We got them in there. He said little bumper car: kitties no girlfriends want to get there more friends with her car and all the mothers want to get the fathers with the car and he got in the place called over one side crappy and he had his car sideways and they were mad and he was looking around going look at legal and we laughed, we were setting aside a place to get and finally somebody got loose and the ride was about half only felt like that and she did and they were in a hurry. They came all the way around that week and they won't hit somebody before the ride was over there. Sent Norman and they hit him will speed ahead. They really try to get that thing going here comes someone else and they were starting to get loose now in great numbers and one by one they come around and they hit Norman in the spirit of the Lord spoke to me at and he said that's what they been doing to Norman always people been when he threw snowballs at like it's not a human being with a primo joke equals a wooden wording with yourself. They don't then he said something never forget he said that's what my children do my children to one, they get mad because he can't play the piano. The organ can't teach their favorite Sunday school class for the gossip about the preacher gossip about some lady or some many reminded me of the 13 chapter 1st Corinthians, though I speak with the tongues of men and angels liable so I could remove mountains understand all mysteries. If I have no charity, love. I need another cassette tape. Another book notes is nothing so appreciate the heartache and the emotion there for Mike Adkins, I'm so sorry would have to pause right there in this classic presentation, but I'll encourage you to be back with us next time for the powerful conclusion of this message, she won't want to miss it right, John, and as we said at the top of the show will give Mike a call. Toward the end of the program. Next time to get an update on how he's doing that, you know, I think all of us know a Norman in our neighborhood. Or maybe at work in a clear take away from this message is that we have an opportunity to be Jesus with skin on to that lonely person.

We can pray and ask the Lord to help us notice someone he'd like to touch through us and then find a way to engage them.

Maybe by offering them a cup of coffee, a worker waving to that neighbor and complementing their lawn. Whatever. And when we build that bridge we have an opportunity to let that person see how God works in our own lives, which often leads to that question. How do you know Jesus like that. I want what you have and then you have the opportunity to introduce that person to their Savior. Just as Mike Atkins did with Norman. As you'll hear next time and last time we hear this message from Mike. We received a letter from a mom that ties right in with what you're saying Jim when he read real quick. She said dear focus. My son is a lot like Norman is a bright, beautiful autistic boy with no friends and I pray every day for an understanding person who love him when I'm no longer here to care for them.

I can only hope that my son will find compassion and understanding. Please continue to share stories like a man called Norman some my child has a chance to be loved for simply being a child of God created to his glory and honor your in my prayers and I thank God for what he's doing through Focus on the Family and I really thought Jim that that was a deeply touching letter and a reminder that we can't move so fast be so self absorbed that we miss the people around us who need us the most. You know John grips me right now hearing that I'm just thinking of the love of that mom she's anticipating a time when she won't be there for her son and as the body of Christ that should be our responsibility to step up in the gap and to say yes I will be there for that boy. And if we do more of that John and I don't think there's anything that could stop the body of Christ and the Lord working through us. That's the ultimate definition of the church. It's the family of God here on earth and our listeners monitored some emotion as I read the letter from that mom and many would know their son Zane is on the autistic spectrum were really struggling to figure out just what does life look like for him down the road, especially after Dena and I pass away.

He's very fortunate to have loving siblings, and there are a lot of people pulling for them but I can imagine how hard it would be to have an only child thinking will whose can be taken care of that son who's gonna reach out to him the right and it's that lingering unknown fear of the future, wondering who is going to stand in the gap for that child will, I hope as a listener, you've been touched by this broadcast and that you'll take the challenge to get involved in a lonely person's life and also share this message with as many people as possible so that we can multiply the good that can be done. Please get in touch with us to get a copy of this complete presentation from Mike Atkins on CD. It would be happy to send that out to you for donation of any amount as you contribute to the work we're doing here every day at Focus on the Family and you can reach us by calling 800 a family or follow the link in the episode notes to donate to the work of focus and request that CD and if you enjoyed today's program. Please tell a friend to tune in with you next time.

As Mike Atkins continues and explains how he helped Norman his life inside and out.

I got some lava so strong to not interrupt the top and it was beautiful behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for this Focus on the Family podcast take a moment and give us a ring share about this episode with a friend, your pastor is encouragement and help us extend the impact of the story, I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time is once more help you and your family thrive in Christ, has the heart in your marriage become too much to bear. Focus on the Family's restored marriage intensive.

Can we work so you can have a thriving marriage you want.

Find out how to receive your free consultation

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime