Jessica Barnes stood at the curb by the mound of furniture, clothes and toys that had just been removed from her small frame house and watched as the deputy pulled away in his squad car. She rested one hand on her eight months pregnant belly and clasped the other over her mouth in disbelief. Tears flowed freely down her face.
"Mommy?", six year old Sam asked, "can I get Benjie bunny from there?"
Jess looked in the direction that Sam pointed and nodded yes. She was numb from the shock of it and scared to the point of shaking. She didn't know what to do next. Just then she looked up at the house across the street and saw the neighbor close the mini blinds. She believed that was the lowest moment of her life. Worse than when Jake had left her six months ago. Worse than when she realized she was pregnant with this child and no way to support the one she already had. Seeing those blinds close was the last straw in a life of rejection.
Jessica sat down on the edge of the curb and buried her face in her hands. She thought of the notices, the warnings. First the electricity. And they had used candles. Then the water, and they had "borrowed" their neighbor's garden hose in the middle of the night. Then the eviction notices came...one after another. She had no one to turn to. She had been on her own since she was sixteen.
Jessica closed her eyes and began to pray, "Dear God, if you're there...please help us. I've never needed anybody before, God. But I'm in a fix I can't get out of. I'm not a churchy kind of person, you know. I don't even know if this is the way to pray...but I need help...amen"
"Mommy?", Sam asked, "can they take our stuff?"
Jessica looked up to find two strangers picking through her things and shouted at them to get away. "So much for praying", she thought, as she strode toward the strangers and threw a curse word their way.
Pastor Tim Nolen rehearsed his sermon as he drove to mid-week service. It was the third in a series he was preaching from the book of Acts. Charity. Giving. How the church was in one accord because they freely gave to one another as each had need. He wondered if his upper middle class congregation was getting it, though.
Suddenly, he looked up to find that he had taken a wrong turn. He couldn't imagine how that happened. He had been driving this route for seven years now. He was unfamiliar with the neighborhood he found himself in and pulled over to see if he could find it on the map. That's when he saw them. The young pregnant woman and the little boy. Obviously in trouble. He suddenly found he had a decision to make. Would he ignore their plight and carry on to church to preach a message on charity? Or would he offer help to this family. The little boy looked at him and compassion made the decision for him.
The pastor introduced himself to Jessy and said, "looks like you're in need of a home".
Sam looked up at him with big brown eyes and replied, "We have home! We just need a house to put it in."
Pastor Nolen laughed at the wisdom of the child. He knew instantly what he must do. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and called the church. Within the hour, members from his congregation jammed the street with pick-ups and various vehicles to help the young woman with her things.
"You can stay in the parsonage until you can sort things out", he offered. "My wife and I aren't using it"
Jessica pulled Sam close to her and felt the relief of knowing that it was going to be alright. She had been all alone five minutes before. But now she had a family. She knew that was a miracle. And she said a silent thank you to God for sending it.
Pastor Nolen looked at his congregation...and felt tremendous joy at what he saw. They had "gotten it" afterall.
And here they were busily "being" the church instead of "having" church. This would be the best mid-week service they ever had!
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