A man moved to a new town and bought an old run down ice cream parlour. He figured that the spectrum of flavours he could offer would enhance people’s lives no end. He revamped the place, throwing out all the old equipment. Put in brand new top-of-the-range gear and redecorated the whole place in warm appealing colours. He bought new chairs and tables, positioned a massive plastic cornet outside, and hired an assistant to help him with the rush.
There was no rush.
No one came.
So he put adverts in the local paper, and posters around the town.
No one came.
He got his assistant to walk up and down the high street wearing a sandwich board listing all the flavours. He created new, innovative, enticing flavours and got hsi assistant to stand on the corner shouting about the wonders of his new ice creams. He offered evenings of free-tasting.
No one came.
The man began to run out of money and had to let his assistant go. Only temporarily. He hoped. But as the days went by and the shop lost more money it looked increasingly as if he would have to sell up. One bleak Monday he was so depressed he went into his shop, and stood staring out of the brightly decorated window. As he watched the people pass by he spotted his assistant, looking depressed, on his way to the job centre. He felt sorry for him, so he made the biggest ice cream he could carry, went and outside, and gave it to his assistant, who then sat on a nearby bench sadly eating it.
As they passed by one or two people threw him a glance.
What the man did not know was this. Ice cream had a bad name in that town. Rumours had been around for years that the parlour was a dangerous place. In the past the owners had been unkind, inconsiderate, hurtful people, and ice cream was something that could only bring bad news.
The following day the man made another ice cream, using his best flavours, and once again, he spotted his assistant passing by, his heart in his boots. So he gave him the ice cream and the assistant sat outside and ate his way through it. More people noticed him that day.
On the third day of doing this a teenager stopped and asked the assistant what he was eating. The owner came out and told her and offered a free ice cream. She said she’d think about it. Two days went by. Then she came back with a friend and for the first time the man had customers.
A week went by. The assistant continued eating a daily ice cream on a bench outside the shop. More and more people took notice, and a few of them came inside. Some even bought ice creams. The servings were generous and the customers went away satisfied. The man rehired his assistant. The days passed and more people came in, some went away intent on spreading negative rumours and gossip. But others were impressed and told others. The news spread about the new flavours on offer and before long people came from nearby towns to try them out. Gradually more and more people visited the ice cream parlour, and the folks who came were amazed at the owner’s skill, creativity and generosity. Many others tried to deter folks from trying the ice cream, but against the odds, the ice cream parlour flourished.
[Proverbs 25 v 25. Isaiah 55 v 1. John 10 v 10]