“Do you believe in God?” asked John Abbott. Just a few minutes earlier, I had driven away from Mother Nature nursery with my wallet on the bumper of the car. Now, I was back at the little strip center on Oram and Skillman, searching an empty parking lot.

When John Abbott walked up to me, wearing his old Chevron shirt with “John” stitched over the pocket, and asked, “Do you believe in God?”, I had no time to listen to a sermon. But none of the ladies in the laundromat next to Mother Nature looked newly rich, so I walked back out, and there was John Abbott again.

I asked him if he had found a wallet in the street, and he said: “Saw it lying there as I was driving home. Forty-two dollars inside and a bunch of credit cards. A picture on the driver’s license that looks a lot like you.

“Yes, I found a wallet, and that’s why I asked you if you believed in God.”

Abbott runs a mobile locksmith shop out of the rented, two-bedroom home on Oram where he lives with his wife and three sons. He’s a lay preacher who loves to spread the word of God. And he says he’d rather do a good deed for somebody than be rich.

“I knew one thing. Some guy had his head down somewhere, lookin’. Lookin’ for his billfold. And when I saw that, I knew that I had joy for somebody in my hand. With your billfold, I had joy. And I wasn’t gonna rest until I was able to see joy move. Until I had seized the instant and put you back together with your billfold.”

Still holding my wallet, I said: “Can I…Would you…”

But he would accept no reward.

“I’m happier than you are right now,” Abbott said. “I’m happy I had a chance to return your wallet to you.

“Now, if I had seen your billfold two years ago, you could have forgot it. Your money would have blew away. That’s because I was in the world. That was before I became a Christian.

“The word of God says: ‘Broad is the way to destruction, but narrow is the gate.’ And that’s the reason I love doing, because I’m pressing toward the mark of a higher calling.”

I had renewed faith, too, I told him. In people.

“Praise the Lord,” Abbott said. “Praise the Lord. And in return, all I want to do is get in the corner and say, ‘Lord, I thank you for enabling me to have the strength to do the right thing. The RIGHT thing.’ That’s my reward.”

I asked him about his business, and he handed me some cards. They read: “Abbott Locksmith Shop”. He told me his motto, too: “If you deal in keys, you may be in need. Who you gonna call? Abbott.”

He described how a good locksmith learns to think like a lock and never stops studying his trade, and he repeated the motto again with satisfaction.

“You know, you can buy the biggest newspaper advertisement you want, but I’ve found the best way to get customers is word of mouth,” Abbott said. “Word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth.”

Doing nice things for your East Dallas neighbors sometimes helps, too.

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