Rev's Words

Remember the Titans

Revised: September 6, 2012

"Hallelujah, the Rev's here." Gerry Bertier smiled as his teammate walked into the crowded hospital room.

"How you doin', brothers?" Rev flashed him a soft, humble grin, his hands deep in his pockets. He took a seat next to Petey and Blue.

"All right, all right." Alice, Gerry's nurse, would really be mad when she found out Gerry was hiding his whole team in his room. Gerry hurriedly shushed his friends.

Rev looked around the room. Everyone seemed a little down. Their all-American paralyzed—it was hard to comprehend.

"Did you bring it?" Gerry suddenly asked. Julius, who had been leaning against the wall closest to Bertier, looked up.

"Bring what, man?" Rev shrugged.

"Aw, c'mon, man, you know what he means. The Bible, yo! The Holy Bible, the Word of God the Father!" Blue chuckled, patting Rev's back.

Jerry Harris shrugged again. "Yeah, I brought it."

"All right, cool, man, read me a story." Gerry suggested.

"A story?" Rev laughed, looking around. Everyone seemed in on it. "Y'all want a story?"

"Yeah, man, somethin' uplifting and all." Petey represented the team with his words. Gerry nodded.

"Well, what'd y'all wanna hear?" Rev asked, pulling the small Bible from his pocket. "All I've got is the New Testament."

"Lemme see that, man." Julius held out his hand.

Rev was hesitant, his hands firmly held around the binding. "Man this is personal, man." He whispered.

"I won't tell nobody nothin', man." Julius promised with a trustworthy nod, and Rev handed it over. Flipping it open, Julius filed through the dog-eared pages. Most of the four Gospels had been underlined so many times Julius could barely make out the words. Words were written on the sides of the page where the text wasn't, in Rev's neat cursive, the words were easily readable.

And shall we not be united, too? Just like Samaritan to the Jew, can we not receive such kindness from white folk? How different are we, really? We believe in the same God and we go to the same heaven, how different are we? Why did that poor brother have to be-

Campbell tore himself away from the words, clearing his throat. He didn't want to recall the story of the black boy who had been shot. He looked over at his best friend, his Superman, and smiled. "How about the 'Good Samaritan'?" He asked. Gerry smiled at him, they both knew the story. Other players groaned.

"We've heard that story before man!"

"That's so old!"

"Well?" Gerry threw the old Bible to Rev, who caught it. He stared at Julius; somehow he knew Julius had read what he wrote. His eyes softened.

"So, y'all know the story, huh?" He asked, opening up to the chapter of Luke where his notes had been written. Everyone nodded.

"No." A voice broke through the silence. Louie Lastik was looking down at his folded hands. "I don't know the story, man." he mumbled.

"You don't know the story? Did you go to Sunday School?" Alan asked in disbelief, lightly throwing a football to Sunshine, who caught it in one hand.

"No one in my family ever went to no church." Louie shrugged.

"All right, man, I'll tell it to ya." Rev smiled. "Hey man, there another Bible in this room?" he asked Gerry, who nodded, pointing to the cupboard. Julius got it out and threw it to the Rev. "Hand that to Louie, will ya, brother?" Rev asked Petey. "Tell him to read along. Luke 10: 25-37, got it?"

"Who's Luke?" Louie asked. Petey shook his head in disbelief.

Alan laughed, opening the Bible. "It's right in the middle, dude. Matthew, Mark, Luke." He skipped to Luke 10, and then pointed it out to Louie, who mumbled his thanks sheepishly.

Without further delay, Rev began. "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'

"'What is written in the Law?' He replied. 'How do you read it?'

"He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

"'You have answered correctly,' Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.'

"But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'

"In reply Jesus said: 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denariiand gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?'" Rev asked Louie. While reading the passage Rev had gotten up, sitting down next to Louie and helping him stay on the right verse. Louie looked up and saw everyone's eyes on him.

"The guy who was kind—the Samaritan." Louie answered quickly, hopeful he was right. No one said anything.

Very slowly, Rev began to smile. "Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"

From outside the door, Coach Herman Boone flagged down a nurse. "Could you give Gerry Bertier some water? He's real thirsty."

"Of course, sir." she replied, walking off to do so.

"Me?" Louis asked, from back inside the door.

"Yeah, you." Rev elbowed him playfully. "All of us, man, all of us brothers." He looked down at the Word. "I mean, that man—the Samaritan—he helped the Jew even though everyone in their countries were against each other having a relationship. And shall we not be united, too? Just like Samaritan to the Jew, can we not receive such kindness from whites and blacks?" Rev looked at Julius as he spoke, his own words speaking to the men. "How different are we, really? We believe in the same God and we go to the same heaven, how different are we? The same Jesus that died for Alan died for me. And He died for Petey, Sunshine, Blue, Gerry, Julius, Coach Yoast, Coach Boone, Coach Hinds, and Coach Tyrell, all of us." Some of the players clapped.

"Amen," Blue whispered.

"And you know what; He died for you, too, Louie Lastik." Rev placed a hand on the big man's shoulder. "He died to wash away your sins, because He loves you, brother. He loves whites, and He loves blacks, and there ain't no difference to Him what color we are, because in His eyes we are all His children. His creation. His to love."

"What if He doesn't care about me?" Louie whimpered. "I was told there was no God, He's not real, He doesn't live anywhere, you can't see Him or nothin', man!"

"You know what, He does live, He lives right here." Rev pointed to Louie's heart. "He's always been there, waiting for you to let Him in, for you to accept the Lord Almighty as your Savior and Father."

"Amen," Petey called out.

"How do I let Him know?" Louie asked urgently. "I gotta let him know, man."

"Well we gotta pray, brother." Blue said, watching as a nurse placed a cup of water on Gerry's nightstand.

"Uh, I didn't ask for this-" Gerry called out but she already closed the door. Shrugging, Gerry reached for it.

"Don't, man." Julius slapped his hand away.

"What?" Gerry spluttered the water he took a sip of.

"You can't drink that water, man."

"Listen, Campbell, it ain't no kryptonite, don't worry." He joked.

"Nah, man, can't you see?" Julius looked at Rev. "This here is Holy Water. And we gonna baptize big Louie."

"Baptism? What's that?" Louie asked Rev, who was looking at Gerry and Julius, a big smile on his face.

"We gonna have a baptism!" A player cheered. Everyone joined in as Rev shrugged, got up, and took the water. He poured it into the vomit bucket that was left on Gerry's nightstand. He hadn't used it, and it was the only thing he could find.

"All right, everyone, gather in around Gerry." Rev called. He waited for the players to file in. "If we could just close our eyes and remain silent." He was surprised to see Coach Boone walk in and join them. "Coach," he whispered. Boone put a finger to his lips; he didn't want to be seen, this was not his time to intrude.

"Lord, we come to You today as a united team. We are all united in Your eyes, there are no barriers to break through to get to You, except maybe our own stubbornness. Father, we want to lift up the names of some of our brothers to You, that You may watch over them and care for them like You do to everyone in this world. Know that they love You back Lord, they love You.

"We come here today to pray over Gerry Bertier, we all hope he gets better and learns how to use a wheelchair soon, Lord." Gerry smiled, eyes closed. "'Cause You know he's gonna be coming to every one of our games, sitting right there on the bench next to us.

"We know Gerry knows You, and loves You, but some of us here don't, and we want to…we wanna baptize them, Lord." Rev motioned for Louie, who walked over to him. "Lewis Lastik, do you believe that our Father is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?"

"I do." Louie nearly choked up. He grabbed Rev's hands, squeezing them so tight he cringed.

"All right, all right, brother." Rev chuckled; his wrist was still broken, after all. He took some water and placed it on Louie's head, keeping his hand there as he spoke. "Upon your profession of faith and in accordance with the Lord's command, I baptize you, brother, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of His death and raised in the likeness of His resurrection."

"Amen. Amen!" Louie whispered. He pulled Rev into a tight squeeze, picking him up off his feet and spinning him around.

"Amen, brother!" Rev cheered, and when Louie set him down some other players stepped forward, led by Sunshine.

"Could you baptize us, too, bro?" Sunshine asked. "You know California, and, I mean-"

"Sure." Rev smiled and began the process again. Boone had walked over to Julius, and was patting his back.

"You're a good friend, Campbell." he said. "Gerry really likes you."

"Thanks, sir." Julius smiled shyly, looking down at Bertier, who was asleep, his hands still folded, a smile still on his face. "I think he's a pretty good friend, too."

Boone looked down, smiling. On the ground lay Rev's open Bible. Boone picked it up, staring at the footnotes and lines, and shut it. Wasn't his business.

"Rev!" he called to his Titan, who was busy being hugged by Petey and Blue. Alan looked ready to pounce as well.

"Sir!" Rev called from the crowd of people, breaking free to stand in front of him.

"I'm proud, son." Boone held out his hand. Rev took it, pulling his coach into a hug.

"Yes, sir." he smiled. "Thank you sir."

"You're going to need this, son." he handed the New Testament back to Rev, who gratefully slipped it in his pocket.

"Yes sir."

"Now, what do you say we all let Bertier get his rest, huh?" Boone suggested.

"Oh, we're gonna need it too, 'cause we gonna when the championship, y'all!" Blue cried and the boys cheered, leaving the room in a mass of people.

"Oh, sir?" A nurse stopped Boone. "Did you get the water you needed?"

"Yes, ma'am." Boone answered, smiling at the Rev, who was staring at him, dumbfounded. "Goodnight, son." he patted Harris's shoulder. "And God bless!"

"God bless us, everyone." Alan said in a high-pitched voice. The other Titans groaned or laughed, but the Rev smiled. It was true, after all.