The Pastor's Corner
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
—Romans 12:20, 21
From the early days of Montana comes a story of how this biblical injunction was carried out by a young trading post employee named Tom Campbell.
In the mid to late 1800’s fur companies operated trading post along the main rivers of the Montana territory. Tom was employed in one of these down the Missouri River from today’s city of Great Falls.
On one occasion, Tom was sent out to hunt for a deer for meat at the trading post. About six miles out, he was confronted and captured by four Indians who held him at gunpoint.
They quickly took his horse and gun. Then they began discussing what should be done with Tom.
Tom, who was fairly fluent in their language, understood what each man was saying. Two of his captors want to kill him then by various methods, while the other two were undecided.
Finally, one of the last two, being a large and rather dominant person convinced the others that they should take everything Tom had and wore, and then release him.
This they did and Tom willingly surrendered all his clothing and even his boots. The large Indian took a piece of rope and gave Tom a harsh whipping across his bare back, followed by a powerful kick to Tom’s bare bottom commanding him to run.
Tom darted off for the brush and trees as fast as he could. Soon however the four Indians took up the chase yelling and shooting at him with their guns.
Fortunately, Tom who was a swift runner was able to elude them and their bullets and made his way back to the trading post.
Two years later while Tom was visiting the town of Fort Benton, he recognized the very same Indian who had suggested his treatment when he had been captured.
Going up to the man Tom grabbed him by the arm, demanded that he come along with him, and ask no questions.
The now frightened man agreed and Tom marched him into a nearby store. “Now,” said Tom, “I want you to pick out the best shirt and the best pair of blankets in the store and I will pay for them.” “You stole my clothing, you stole my horse, you struck me, and the kick you gave me was a hard one. But for all that, I owe you my life and I am glad to return to you this compliment.”
Astonished, the Indian was very pleased and promised Tom his friendship as long as he lived.
This act was made known throughout the Indian’s tribe and Tom received their respect, kindness, and many tokens of friendship for many years afterwards.
What an example of winning over evil with good.
(Taken from Robert Vaughn’s book Then And Now: Thirty Six Years In The Rockies. 1864-1900)