Taking the church into the world


          Bill, Sally and Alice sat together at the table and opened the file the administrator for the LRE (Loving, Relating & Encouraging) ministry had given them. 
          “Tonight is one I’ve been waiting for, ladies. We’re going back for our second follow up call at Waffle House,” Bill said.
          “That’s great!” Sally exclaimed. “I wonder if Cindy talked with her parents yet? I also hope we get to see Jennifer again. Her little girl – can’t recall her name – was having that hearing test with the school that she asked us to pray about.”
          Alice offered, “Check the file, but I think her daughter’s name was Lucy. It made me remember watching the ‘I Love Lucy Show’ long ago.” 
          After reading the notes of the previous visits, Bill said, “You get the award Alice. Jennifer’s daughter’s name is Lucy. And one other thing it says here that one of us underlined was to be sure to pray for the cook, who is the manager. He’s been hard on the wait staff about giving them better hours.” The team prayed over all the notes and needs. 
          Then they joined a large circle of other teams and Pastor John led them in a prayer of sending.
When Bill, Sally and Alice entered the Waffle House, Jennifer saw them first and greeted them, “Hi there! So glad you decided to come back again and visit us!”
          “Nice to see you, Jennifer. Where are your tables tonight?” Bill asked.
          “These two are open,” Jennifer said, pointing. Bill, Sally and Alice sat down. 
          “Excuse me just a minute,” Jennifer said as she almost ran away to go tell another waitress something with great joy. About 45 seconds later, Jennifer and her friend were coming to the table. 
          Jennifer said, “I want you all to meet my friend, Angie. She has been working for Waffle House about a year longer than me and I told her about you guys, how you prayed with people, like Cindy and me. She has a question for you all.
          “Nice to meet you, Angie. How is your week going?” Alice said. 
          “Would you all remember something for me in prayer too? Cindy told me about how you got to be her friend and prayed for her and Jennifer,” Angie said. 
          “Why, certainly we would pray for you too, Angie. We know there is plenty of God’s love to share for everyone. How can we pray for you?” Bill said. 
          Angie said, “My Dad went to the doctor and found out he has some spots on his lungs. Several in his family have died with cancer and he is really afraid. Please remember him and my Mom. They are in Cleveland, Ohio.”
          “We are glad to do that Angie. We know this is hard on you all. Jennifer, do you have any requests? How did Lucy come out on the tests? And where’s Cindy?” Sally asked. 
          “Thanks so much for praying about my Lucy. She did fine on the tests! And Cindy is off tonight. She worked the early shift.”
          Then Sally led them in prayer, lifting Angie, her Dad, family and thanks for Lucy’s tests. She also prayed for Cindy. 
          As Jennifer was getting their waffles together, the cook commented to her, “I see your prayer friends are back again.”
          “They are really nice people who care about us, Jack.” 
          “How about watching the stove a minute, Larry,” Jack said to his cook trainee. “I’m going to go over and talk to some customers.” 
          Bill noticed the cook wiping his hands, looking at them and then walking from behind the counter toward their booth, “Oh my gosh, y’all. Don’t look now, but the manager is coming over here. Pray.” 
          Jack was a large, towering man. He approached them and stopped right in front of their booth. 
          Looking right at Bill, he said, “Hello. I’m Jack. I’m the manager here of this unit. I’ve seen you all in here several times and know you have been talking to and praying with my wait staff.”
          A wave of fear descended over the team members. Alice did not look up at Jack because she had her head down, praying hard. 
          Bill said, “My name is Bill. This is Alice and Sally. We really like your waffles and have enjoyed getting to know some of your staff. It’s nice to meet you.” They were all waiting for the bomb to drop. 
          Jack looked at them all now, and said, “I came over to tell you something very important that I should have told you earlier. I want to tell each of you thanks for changing this restaurant. These waitresses used to not get along well at all. They fussed with each other. They were short with some of our customers and really didn’t like me much either. Over the last couple of months with you guys coming in here and visiting with them, they are changing. It’s different now. They get along and work so much better. The other night they were in a circle in the office praying together,” he said with a big smile. “And I’ve got a few things I would love for you to pray about for my family and me, if that’s okay.
     Laity from a church involved in the LRE ministry are touching lives in a Waffle House and other restaurants they love to visit on the west side of Atlanta. Can it happen in your community with your laity? Absolutely yes! I’d love to talk with you about the ministry possibilities for your church. Our God is able. 
Rev. Jim W. Hollis is a General Evangelist of the United Methodist Church. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Proactive Ministries, a teaching ministry working with local churches across America, based in Smyrna. You can contact Jim at pem1jwh@gmail.com or on Facebook.