I've known a lot of "Mildreds" in the church all around America. It seems like every area has a "Mildred" participating in the service projects, teaching Sunday School, or cooking for the potlucks. I met Mildred in Saltville, Virginia, just before my husband and I were married, more than 20 years ago. Her husband, Buck, had passed on a short time before, and she was running his Drive-In with the help of her children and grandchildren.
Buck Maiden opened Buck's Drive-In in Saltville, Virginia, years ago. I don't know what year it opened, but people we knew there talked about going when they were kids. It is off the beaten path and little-known by the outside world, but the parking lot is packed on a Friday night after a high school football game. People who have moved away from the area will drive hours just to go back and get a Buck's hot dog or milkshake. Buck and Mildred lived in a little house behind the Drive-In, and when Buck left this world, Mildred kept the staple of the community going. It has always been one of the most popular places around.
When my husband and I got married, my husband was preaching at Mildred's church, Main Street Christian Church in Saltville. The first time we went to eat at Buck's, Mildred would not take our money. She said our meal was "on the house." Each time we went back, it was the same. "I know preachers don't make a lot of money," she said. "I can do my part to use the business God gave me to help provide for my preacher." One time we tried to sneak by quickly when Mildred was not there. We took our money out to pay for our meal. "Oh, no!" said her granddaughter. "Grandma won't let me take money from you. Her preacher is not allowed to pay here!"
While we did not want to take advantage of Mildred's kindness, I will admit there were some days in those early days of our marriage when the grocery bill was tight. We would get a little tired of the beans-n-weenies or the ramen noodles. We would head down to Buck's Drive-In, and Mildred would always feed us.
In the years since we've left Saltville, we've ventured off the interstate and stopped by Buck's many times when we were traveling through. We've taken friends and our kids. I'd like to think we've given enough business back to make up for all the free meals we ate, but I know Mildred never wanted us to pay her back. What she gave, she was giving to God. I daresay we were not the only hungry people she fed. She was a member of the priesthood of believers, using her livelihood to serve God because serving God was a way of life for her, not something she just did on Sundays.
Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.
Colossians 3:23 CSB
When I went to Buck's Drive-In this past weekend, I found out that Mildred left us in 2015. She is greatly missed, but Buck and Mildred's legacy lives on. This weekend, I introduced my youngest to the best hot dogs (or corn dogs) this side of the Mississippi, as well as an important part of our family history.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in.
Matthew 25:35 CSB
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 25:34 CSB