The Walmart shoppers were growing impatient.
It was late on a Friday night in Newcastle, Oklahoma and many of the customers were grumbling and complaining about the lady at the front of the line.
The lady was a bit frazzled – juggling three hyperactive kids while trying to unload groceries on the conveyer belt.
“I asked her if it had been one of those days,” cashier Nicholas Tate said. “She said it had been.”
The woman explained that she was a foster parent and she had just signed up for a federal program that helps low-income families – WIC.
“She apologized beforehand because she was using WIC and had never used it before,” the Austin Bible Institute student said.
The 20-year-old cashier smiled and reassured the foster mom that it would not be a problem.
Unfortunately, there was a problem. Several of the transactions did not process – including the one of the most important items – baby formula. He swiped the card again, but it still did not work.
Nicholas summoned a manager for assistance – but in all the chaos he heard a voice.
“I felt like God was calling for me to pay for her bill,” he said. “It was without a doubt – God was saying, ‘Pay for this.’”
And that’s exactly what he did – swiping his own credit card to pay for the $60 worth of groceries. The foster mom burst into tears and left the store.
Nicholas is a Christian – a student at Austin Bible Institute. He’s hoping to become a missionary to Honduras.
“When God tells me to do something, I do it,” he said. “God told me, ‘I put you in this place at the right time and I knew you were ready for this – to pay for this. So without hesitation, I pulled my card out and swiped it.”
A few days later, a customer approached Nicholas inside Walmart and showed him a Facebook post – asking if he was the cashier mentioned in the posting.
It turned out the foster mom was so overcome with emotion that she had not thanked Nicholas for his kindness. So she wrote a message on Facebook hoping to learn the young man’s name.
And thanks to the power of social networking – Nicholas and the foster mom were reunited.
“It was pretty cool getting to talk to her,” he said.
Nicholas told me he was surprised at how many people have heard about the encounter.
“I was just trying to bless someone and make their day and it turned into something incredible,” he said.
It wasn’t too long before the television stations came a-calling with promises to make Nicholas famous – but that’s really not what this story is about.
“It’s not what I did,” Nicholas told me. “It’s what God did through something so small. He took something so small and He glorified his name with it.”
In Sunday school, we learned to proclaim the name of the Lord – to make known His deeds – to make His name famous.
Nicholas Tate made known the deeds of God on a Friday night in Newcastle, Oklahoma – at a Walmart checkout counter.