Change came to New Hope Church in the form of Pastor Raleigh Hixton. After nearly 100 years of being pastored by members of the Mynor family, Raleigh Hixton was quite a departure for the congregation.
Raleigh deeply desired to walk alongside people on their journeys to Christ. He wanted to hold their hands, cheer them on, wipe their tears or whatever it took to show them Christ’s love. He believed that by meeting a community’s needs, its people might become interested in New Hope and, ultimately, a deeply personal relationship with Christ. To achieve this vision, he began to orchestrate New Hope’s sponsorship of everything from barbecues to blood drives to bicycle races.
Many members were born into this church, and more than a few were wary of their new pastor and his vision for their future. This fact weighed heavily on Raleigh’s heart as he slumped onto his office chair. He wondered aloud, “Lord, will I ever win their hearts or their trust?”
At just the right moment, when he needed it most, Raleigh overheard a conversation taking place just outside his office.
Lottie Prescott was already hard at work when Hayzie burst into the church office. Hayzie Mynor’s personality filled every room she entered, often leaving very little room for any one or any thing else. Lottie’s relaxed personality complemented Hayzie’s frequent frenzies, and the two had been friends since the cradle.
The ladies chatted as they folded flyers for next week’s mailing. The flyer invited each reader to “Find new hope at New Hope”. Hayzie commented, “It’s ridiculous! Inviting everyone, as if New Hope was a bowling alley and not a house of the Lord!”
Hayzie’s voice rose in pitch and volume, “Look at this stack! We’ll be here all day! Is it just the two of us? Again? All this work, and just the two of us to do it?” Hayzie took one breath and continued, “Lottie, where is your sister Alma? Did she ditch us again? What was the excuse today? A lost kitty needed a new home? Some paint needed to be watched as it dried? She puts everything before God’s work and leaves His work to us!”
Lottie chuckled at her friend’s sarcasm. It was true, Alma was very busy and not often available for church work. “I think she’s over at that old lot on Dixie Street.”
The disapproval in Hayzie’s voice was palpable as she said, “It’s always something with her, isn’t it?”
Lottie felt the sudden need to defend her sister, “Hayzie, it’s a project for the scouts. Alma wants to help us. She really does. She’s just really busy is all.”
Hayzie cut her off, “And we’re not busy? I notice she has plenty of time to go visiting! Why, I’ve seen her at the Porter house three times this month. She has time to go visiting, but no time to serve the Lord!”
With timing that could only have been divine intervention, Alma herself, entered the room. “Hello Ladies!” Her voice sounded like a smile, if a smile made sound. “I thought, since we finished the scout project early, I’d drop by and see if I could lend you girls a hand.”
For once, Hayzie was silent. The trio worked in blessed quiet for a few minutes.
Then, Alma spoke softly, “Amy Porter says hello. I’ve been to see her. She’s been so sad since her husband passed away a few weeks back. Sometimes we chat a bit. Sometimes I just hold her hand as we sit quietly on the back porch.”
She continued, “Boy, I bet I’ll sleep good tonight; I’m bushed! The scout troop had planned a project this morning. I introduced my new neighbors and their boys to the troop. We all pulled weeds, picked up garbage and planted flowers. That ugly, overgrown lot is now beautiful, the boys earned Citizenship in the Community badges, and the new family made some friends. They’re really nice. You’ll meet them at Sunday’s service. I invited them, and they accepted.”
Hayzie interrupted, “That’s all well and good Alma, but you should be spending time working in the church, not in the weeds.”
Alma smiled and again her words were gentle, “Hayzie, it’s wonderful that you work so hard at the church. But we serve in different ways. See, I believe Jesus doesn’t want to consume our time, he wants consume our hearts.”
Pastor Raleigh smiled, looked upward and whispered, “Thank you.”
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