Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
TITLE: River of Promise
By Noreen Ophoff
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The message was about reaching out to lost and lonely people, including a talk from a couple who had adopted a little girl from Ethiopia. Everything about the service impressed the couple.
While walking out no one spoke to either of them. They smiled at the people near them, but no one even nodded in their direction. They left and drove home wondering about that.
Both decided to give it another try the next Sunday. Maybe there was some sorrow in this church family they didn't know about. The next service was as uplifting as the week before. A soft blue light illuminated the cross while a man with a dramatically low voice read a scripture passage. The minister talked about being available to each other in times of trouble. He also asked if anyone was new, as they would be given a packet of information. Kent raised his hand, shook hands with the usher and was handed a large pink folder.
When the service ended, this searching pair made their way to the exit. No one spoke to them again, not even the usher who had given them the packet, although he was at the door. They found this behavior very odd. If all the work of being friendly had to come from themselves, with no reaching out from other people, this church wasn't for them.
The following Sunday, Kent and Lisa decided to go back to their roots, to the denomination where they had been active before moving. A very friendly, smiling man approached them the second they walked through the front door. His hand was extended to shake hands with each of them. He said he hadn't met them before, asking if they were new to the area. When told yes, he immediately told them of the Wednesday night programs with several Bible study small groups, a supper that coming Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., with everyone invited, and on Saturday several church members were going bowling.
Taking a seat in a pew in about the middle of the sanctuary, Lisa noticed a couple who looked familiar. She was sure she had seen them visiting a resident at the nursing home where she worked.
The music was a mix of old songs like "Rock of Ages" accompanied by the organ; and "Power in the Blood" led by guitars. There was a time to sing praise songs by Christian artists, like "River of Promise", and "Annihilate Fear With Your Sword". Kent and Lisa looked at each other, smiling.
The pastor prayed for several people from the congregation who were ill, a little boy with a broken arm, and two new babies. During his sermon he kidded around with the people, some of whom answered him, making the atmosphere light-hearted, before he delved into the topic of following Jesus no matter what happens in life. Lisa thought back to a time of fright in their lives, when Kent had a cancer scare. She had wished then they had been part of a church family for the prayer support and friends to talk with.
As the service ended, another couple came right to them to invite them for coffee and cookies, to meet some other folks. They readily followed. There they spoke with the couple who were familiar to Lisa, they had recognized her too from when she sang at the nursing home. Lisa needed to be familiar instead of feeling like a stranger everywhere she went.
A subtle peace engulfed both Kent and Lisa. They knew in their hearts, the time of searching was over, they had found their new church home.
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