Friday, January 18, 2013


Wednesday evening I opened up the service with a more modern version of one of the old hymns, shared how we were there more out a desire to worship “with” them than to thump a sermon “at” them, and, when I asked for volunteers to share a word of testimony, an older African-American gentleman currently going through their program so blessed us. “Anyone else?” I queried. From the rear of the small room (that was fairly well packed on this occasion) a soft, almost timid voice responded with a desire to sing a song. You take your chances in such circumstances. You take your chances, for that matter, in a church when you offer such opportunity. People are people; and some just like to be heard. This was a young fellow, though, no more than twenty or twenty-one, no tattoos or piercings that most his age display nowadays, and not that my mentioning such here would have made any difference to me. His whole manner was polite. When he queried whether he should come forward, I welcomed him behind the simple wooden lectern they provide us; and he began by speaking of his learning that he was helpless in managing his own affairs, of how God was teaching him, of how thankful he was for places like the mission. The message was short and humble, the song one he had written and brought forth almost with apology, the words almost not able to be heard by this old man; yet something in his spirit had us all. Again and again, within the lyrics, we heard how Christ had shown him the way. As he returned to his seat, the men gave their support along with ours, the moment one to be remembered, the sort of thing that has kept me in this ministry for more than twelve years now, “church” to me…….


  1. 20 or 21? Just a baby really and already needing a mission and already acknowledging that things were unmanageable. I read lately that a heart must be broken in order to really be open to God. This young one already has a story to tell.

    Brings out the mother hen in me.


  2. It indeed made one wonder how the young fellow had gotten himself into such circumstance. The moment, though, was one that helped make us "one" in our worship, people thinking, it seems to me, that ministry in such spaces is but to men hooked on drugs and alcohol, men a lttle "less" than the rest of us. Most of the time what we encounter there is "church", worship with people who may be struggling in what life has brought to them, but people who reach out like any other to fellowship with a God who loves them.

  3. Just the thought of it makes tears come to my eyes. What a privilege to bear witness to such!

    1. It was, indeed, a special moment, Annie...