$15.00 – That’s All That This Blessing Cost…

An actual email exchange:

Dear Sirs,

I do not know you and we never met, but your act of appreciation and kindness on the 4th of May will live forever in my memories. You see, I’m the Soldier whose meal you paid for at Houlihan’s in the Atlanta Airport that day. I was on my way back to Iraq after spending the shortest 15 days of my life with my family in Missouri, and needless to say, I was pretty depressed about having to return for another 8 months.

When the waitress told me that you had paid my bill my entire mood about returning shifted to something positive for the first time in several days. I can not put into words how much your generosity meant to me, nor can I fully explain how much of an emotional lift you gave me that afternoon. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You should also know that when I told my mother the story she cried- not because she was sad, but because she was touched by your kindness as well. People like you give me hope, Sir… and you have NO idea how important that is to me and my family. Thank you again and God bless you.


SSG William Paolicelli
2nd Infantry Division, United States Army
Baghdad, Iraq
And this email reply from James:


Dear William,

I appreciate your response. I had no idea that my action would have such an impact. There are two reasons I paid for your meal that day . ..

#1. I love being an American. I greatly understand the freedom I enjoy comes only because selfless men like you, lay their lives down daily to
protect that freedom. I put myself in your shoes for a moment and if I had to leave my family for 8 months at a time, I would want to know that it mattered. I am writing this letter to let you know that it matters a great deal to me. I believe whole heartedly in what you are doing.

#2. The second reason is this . . . I’m sure you figured out from my e-mail address that I am a follower of Christ and that I work for a
church. (It seems that those two distinctions mean less and less these days.) On daily basis, I wrestle with my failures and sinful condition
before God, and daily He loves me just as I am. After knowing and experiencing this love for almost 12 years, a great desire has grown in
me to let others know it as well. I don’t know whether or not you have a relationship with Jesus but my prayer is that you take the kind gesture in the airport as from Him and not me.

I would really like to correspond with you further if that is ok with you, if not I understand. Either way I commit to pray every day for you and your family.

Lord, I thank you for William. I thank you for the sacrifice he is making for this great country. I pray that as he reads this e-mail that he would be encouraged by you. I ask that you would protect him as he faces dangerous situations and that his family would also be protected. Sustain the Paolicelli family while William is away and keep them free from stress or injury. Let their hearts grow closer together even though they are apart. Let your Holy Spirit bring peace to William in trusting you with his family. I thank you Lord, for hearing this prayer and answering it according to your faithfulness. Amen.

PS- If I wanted to send you a letter or package, how would I go about doing that?

Bringing them to Him,

Pastor James Dodzweit


James and I were returning from the Passion 2007 conference in Atlanta – full of His mercy and grace. I guess that’s what happens when you are so full that His love overflows. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you every moment of every day. Opportunities to share His love are around you even as you read this word (look around you right now).

I’ll keep you posted should we hear back from SSG William Paolicelli. Will you pray right now for him and his family?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by suz on May 14, 2007 at 9:09 AM

    I LOVE this story and keep coming back to read it over and over… thanks for sharing this! I look forward to an update and how God will work in this…

  2. It is a great story and I prayed right away. Thanks be to God.

  3. Posted by Barbara Paolicelli on May 28, 2007 at 11:21 AM

    Dear Roy,
    I cried when Billy (he will always be Billy to me) told me that someone had paid for his lunch on his way back to Iraq and I cried some more when I read his thanks to you and how much he appreciated the kindness and support you showed him. I was never much for prayer or church but I have always believed in God. After 9/11 I began praying every night for the families of those lost that day and I have continued to pray every night for peace in this world. Now I continue to pray for my son and his wife and children and all those putting their lives in danger for the freedom of this wonderful country. I’m certainly not glad that he is over in Iraq but I do believe that our troops are preventing another 9/11 or something even worse. Thank you so much for keeping him and his family and our troops in your prayers.
    Sincerely, Barbara (William’s Mom)

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