Several months ago at our Vacation Bible School, a young lady from our town came after seeing one of our flyers. She was one of the first to show up each night and the last to leave. Although she came alone, she instantly made new friends and was quite possibly the cheeriest child all week. She even wound up winning the grand prize on the final night--a brand new IPod. The greatest thing of all was that she also made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
After VBS ended, this young lady came to our Sunday services for several consecutive weeks. She came week after week with a shiny new Bible in hand and a huge smile on her face. One Sunday she informed me that she and her dad had just become homeless and, with tears in her eyes, she said that they would have to move out of town. I worked with her dad for a few days trying to locate affordable housing for them in our area but nothing came to fruition. The Lord quickly provided an apartment and job in a town about 30 minutes from our church. Without any contact information to give me, the young lady and her dad slipped away to a new town.
This morning, well before most folks had shown up for church, I was greeted by that precious little girl with a bright smile and now a slightly worn Bible. I shook her dad's hand and he told me, "She said to me yesterday, 'Daddy, can I go to church tomorrow?' I said, 'Sure, honey.' And then she said, 'Daddy, I want to go the church I used to go to, the one in Woodbury Heights.'"
I had to choke back a lump and I gave that little girl a hug and told her how much she had been missed. I showed her to her new classroom and it was as if she had never left.
If I'm honest, today was a bit of a challenge. It was the first Sunday of having the entire first floor of our building. I seemed to move from one very serious conversation to another with hardly a moment to catch my breath. We learned that a dear lady in our church just found out that her cancer is back. I felt like my sermon was a total bust. Let's just say that today won't be one of my fondest memories...
...except for this one little blessing. In all the facility talk and planning, despite all the preparations we are making to be received as a fully self-supporting church, today I was reminded, in the face of a child, about the real purpose and heart of our ministry. What a blessing to hear this little girl say that she wanted to come to our church even though it is more than 30 minutes from her new home. Thanks, Lord, because I think I really needed that today.