Author Terry Muck tells the story of a man who used to have no interest in spiritual things. He lived next door to a Christian, and they had a casual friendship, as neighbors across a fence might have. Then the non-Christian’s wife was stricken with cancer, and died three months later. Here’s part of a letter he wrote afterward:
I was in total despair. I went through the funeral preparations and the service like I was in a trance. And after the service I went to the path along the river and walked all night. But I did not walk alone. My neighbor–afraid for me, I guess–stayed with me all night.
He did not speak; he did not even walk beside me. He just followed me. When the sun finally arose over the river, he came over to me and said, “Let’s go get some breakfast.”
I go to church now. My neighbor’s church. A religion that can produce the kind of caring and love my neighbor showed me is something I want to find out more about. I want to be like that. I want to love and be loved like that for the rest of my life.
What made the difference in this man’s life? It was that one Christian dared to care enough to….be there.
The devastation wrought by last week’s tornadoes has provided so many opportunities for us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” What does that look like? For some it means helping someone sort through the rubble of what was once their home, or clearing downed trees and debris. For others it’s passing out food and water and supplies, and for others stacking and sorting in distribution centers filled with donated goods. Some ministry is seen, some not so much. But more than anything, for our “neighbors” across town, our call is tobe there.
My prayer for our church family in this time of unprecedented ministry opportunity in our state is twofold: First, that we would live out the Gospel and reflect the love of Christ in every divine appointment for ministry He provides, so that somehow through this all, people would be attracted to the God we serve. And secondly, that through our heartfelt service in this time of tragedy to those we don’t even know, we would catch a vision for serving the neighbors we doknow and that we will learn through this experience how we can love those neighbors in tangible ways long after “April’s Fury” has come and gone.
Thanks to each of you who have been serving so faithfully the past week or so, making a difference for Christ as His hands and feet in this world. Please continue to pray especially for those in our body who have family members who were directly affected by the tornadoes.
I count it such a privilege to serve you–and serve with you–at Shelby Crossings, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.