Going Beyond The Walls With Christ
Angie kept glancing at the double doors where customers entered the local diner. Daily she remembered that those were the doors that Betty and Bob had first walked in to sit at one of her booths on a cold, dark winter’s Thursday night months ago.
When Angie had welcomed them in her usual, effervescent way, they seemed genuinely glad to meet her. Bob and Betty had introduced themselves and said, “We need some hot coffee and some apple pie on this cold night. Can you help us?”
“Absolutely,” Angie said. She remembered wondering - What feels so different about these two customers? Why do they seem so sincere?
Bob asked, “So Angie, how’s life treating you today?”
Instantly her mind flashed back to the night before in her tiny apartment, where her 12-year-old son and 13- year-old daughter had been angry with her. “Why do you have to work two jobs? Why don’t you find something that pays more so we can have a life like our friends?” It was one of the lowest days in her life as a struggling, divorced, single parent.
She held her composure. “Oh I’m getting by,” she said. But her blue eyes would not lie – they filled with tears. Both Bob and Betty discerned her great pain. They no longer failed to notice such obvious clues.
She brought them the two cups of decaf coffee they ordered. “Is this enough cream for you two?”
“Yes, that’s great,” Betty said. “Bob drinks it black and I like a little coffee with my cream.” They smiled.
“Good. Let me go and check on your pie. You did want some ice cream on yours, right?”
“That’s right Angie. You can’t have apple pie without a little vanilla ice cream,” Bob said with a twinkle in his old eyes.
In a few minutes Angie returned with their pie slices - Bob’s covered with vanilla ice cream.
“Here you go. Hope you’re ready for some great dessert,” Angie offered.
“Wow. This looks wonderful, Angie. We are going to have a prayer of blessing over this pie. Is there anything you would like for us to lift up in prayer for you or your family?”
Angie sat down next to Betty in the booth and tears began to trickle down her face even as she tried to hold them back, “There’s just so much wrong. Would you please pray for my children who are home by themselves tonight?”
It was during that prayer, more than six months ago, that Angie’s life turned from a path of despair onto a road of love, grace and hope.
Betty and Bob continued to visit the diner nearly every Thursday night. They always asked to sit in one of Angie’s booths. They would exchange hugs. Not only did they continue to pray with Angie, they often had other waitresses come over to the booth for prayer. They prayed with the owner for the success of the business.
Angie and her children became part of the First United Methodist Church through Betty and Bob’s faithfulness in the ministry of L.R.E. – Loving, Relating and Encouraging. Angie and her children each came to experience a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Her daughter and son found incredible friends among the youth ministry. Her son received free tutoring from a retired schoolteacher in the church, and other needs were met by her newfound church family. Life was never the same again for Angie, her children, Bob, Betty and the congregation at First UMC. New life had come for them and many in the congregation.
Just like clockwork, Betty and Bob walked into the diner and greeted most of the people working there. Angie gave them both a hug.
“I know you’re here for pie. But I have some news for you two first. Today I heard about a couple that moved here from Montana about three months ago. He had a job painting houses. Yesterday he fell off a ladder at Richard Johnson’s house over on Elm Street. He may have to have surgery on his back. The word is that his nearest relatives are out west.”
Bob said, “What hospital? Do you know?”
“They’re down at St. Mary’s, from what I hear. Here are their names. Three of us have been praying for them all afternoon.”
“Make that pie to-go, Angie. Forget the ice cream. We’re headed to St. Mary’s hospital.”
“Don’t you two leave before I get your pie and a few of us sit right here in this booth and pray before you go,” Angie said.
Christian community and excellent ministry can happen today in any diner, any town and with any congregation. When we get serious about allowing God to use us to love, relate to and encourage others – miracles follow!
Consider the following questions:
· Do we want God to use us to reach out, consistently - beyond the walls of our local church to bring transformation of lives?
· In light of what Christ has done for us, are we willing to risk ourselves for Christ through effective, caring evangelism?
· Will we talk about this or act on it as well?
Our congregations can experience the joy of simple, authentic outreach ministry. There are more than enough in every church for this to work, where two or more are willing to gather and risk themselves in His Name. Let’s not miss this in our lives and churches!
40The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." – (Matthew 25:40, CEV)
Rev. Jim W. Hollis is an appointed General Evangelist of the denomination. He is the founder and Executive Director of Proactive Ministries, which works in long-term training Covenants with churches across America. You may reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.