Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)
TITLE: The Visitor
By Pamela Kliewer
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The change in his beliefs and practices came one Sunday when a shabbily dressed man entered the front door of the church. His clothes hung loosely on his body and revealed tears in several places. As usual, when anyone came to the church for the first time, he was welcomed, albeit a subdued welcome, but welcomed nonetheless. This man made his way to the front of the church, sitting front and center, looking straight up at the pastor. When the congregation sang the songs of old this man’s voice rang out the loudest, in a rich baritone. His face radiated a joy the pastor had not seen in quite sometime. His heart began to melt within him and he knew, for the first time in many years, the voice of the Lord speaking to him. He was startled to hear these words, “After church I want you to ask this man his story.” The pastor tried to argue with God, but found it useless – God kept insisting he talk to this man who, despite his appearance, was spreading a joy the congregation hadn’t known in many years.
“Hi, I’m glad you’ve joined us today. I’m Pastor Jim Freeman.”
“Good to know you. Just call me Hank.”
“OK, Hank, I’d be interested in knowing your story.”
“I know. The Lord told me to come here today so I could give it to the pastor. Said you needed a bit of ‘shaking up.’ Wellsir, it’s like this. I grew up in a well-to-do family. We never lacked for anything. I lived a lifestyle that left me longing for joy and peace. I entered adulthood with arrogance and pride, rarely giving anyone the time of day. To make a long story short, one day the good Lord got a hold of my heart and set me on a new path, one I’ve never regretted. At times, He’s asked some mighty strange and hard things of me, but I’ve learned that to obey brings the greatest joy.
“One day He asked me the hardest thing of all.”
“What was that?” Pastor Jim asked.
“He asked me to go into the slums of the city and to become one of them, sharing His love. He asked me to spread joy and cheer, but mostly to share His love and to show it to these people, whom He had come to die for just as much as He had for me. I argued with Him on that one, for sure, but He told me that He would show me how to do it.
“Into the slums I went, dressed just like you see me dressed today. I knew I could not very well go in there in the fancy duds I was used to wearing. Right from the start, God showed me that every heart is worth fighting for, from the lowliest of the low, to the most prideful and arrogant among us. Every heart needs a chance to know the Father’s love – and He sent me among those whom I had scorned and ridiculed on a daily basis. He softened my heart to their plight, giving me the words I needed to speak. Now, I live and minister among them. The Lord always meets my needs, providing in ways you would find astounding.”
Pastor Jim looked at Hank with tears streaming down his cheeks. “Hank, you have been sent by God Himself today, I have no doubt. He has shown me that you have more of a Pastor’s heart than I ever have. He sent you to shepherd the hurt and the lost, and you have. I have always wanted the neat and tidy near me, to help with my ‘reputation.’ I have seen today that pastoring requires a letting go of my heart in order to meet the needs of others and that truly every heart is worth fighting for. Thank you for obeying God in coming here today.”
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