It was only meant for a one-night gathering, and it was held in a tiny room in the back of the church. The church bulletin called it "Hearts In Pain Meeting" slated for Monday morning at ten.
The counselor, Marie, facilitating the meeting didn't expect more than a couple of people to be in attendance. She set up the refreshment table checking the items on display, bagels, Danish, coffee, tea, juice, water.
When ten o'clock rolled around she was seated and hoping for at least one person to appear. Endless problems plagued the church, there wasn't enough empathy or truth resonating from the pulpit. There was plenty of self-effacing and self-righteous to go around, but not enough of Jesus' love and compassion. So, on that premise, Marie asked the Minister's permission to have this meeting of "hearts."
Marie turned to see a heavy-set lady with red eyeglasses, "Is this the meeting?"
"Yes, please come on it. I'm Marie, I'm the facilitator. How are you today?"
"Good. I almost didn't come...but I needed to be here."
"Well, praise God."
She sat near Marie and after a brief moment began to speak from the heart. "I just moved here from the mid-west, my hubby passed away and I have no children. I'm just lonely and my heart is breaking. I don't know what to do. I came to this church last week, on a whim, because I'm needing something in my life. I feel so lonely."
"You've come to the right place...may I ask what your name is?"
"Oh, Tanya, sorry."
"No problems Tanya. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is always hard, and throwing a move into the mix makes it exceedingly difficult to navigate life."
"Yes. I came here with a job transfer. I figured it'd be easier to start over." She began to cry, "I miss him so much. I don't know what to do. Please help me."
Marie grabbed her hand and asked, "Would you like to pray?"
She nodded silently as the tears cascaded gently down her face.
"Dear Father, your Son Jesus Christ heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Please help your child Tanya as she goes through this trial, and give her the strength to move forward. She needs your help, that help that only you can provide. In Jesus name we pray. Amen."
Tanya continued nodding, then said, "This is such a good idea. I was going to go to a grief session, but this is better. I feel the Holy Spirit here, and anyone can attend. So, I thought it was a great idea, that people have aching hearts for all different kinds of reasons. So, I wanted to be here to listen as well as heal."
Marie smiled and hugged her. "This is only one time, but I can ask the minister to keep it going."
"I think it would be a good idea, maybe with a little more advertising...like posters or flyers in the supermarkets, we can get others to come."
"Can I do that? I have great ideas. I need to focus on others, like Christ would want me to. When I do that, I find I don't hurt so much."
"A wonderful idea. Thank you Tanya."
That first gathering was five years ago. It began with one person, whose heart was hurting. It grew into a group of fifty, and kept expanding from there. We had to move to a bigger place, and we used a basement in another Church for a long while, until we had to expand yet again.
We are currently in a huge auditorium in a local hospital, who lets us use it for a minimal charge. The endless hearts that come through the door in search of "help" from pain, bondage, abuse, loneliness are staggering. But, Christ has been healing and binding them up all along. And, to think it all started as a "one night deal" with one person...amazing huh?
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