Monday, March 08, 2010

free


He sat down across the table from me. The first thing I noticed about him - his kind eyes. We chatted for a few minutes. He seemed a little nervous, as people often are on their first visit to the food pantry.

I reassured him and joked with him. He is just a little older than my oldest son. Since he was new to the area, I asked him what brought him here. He seemed eager to tell me his story.

He had spent time in prison, he said, as he watched my face for reaction. I smiled at him, encouraging him to tell me more. Being in prison was the best thing that could have happened to him, he said.

In prison, he met Jesus Christ. And though behind bars and razor-wire fence, for the first time in his life he was free. He attended wonderful Bible studies and awesome worship services (his words).

Released from prison, he moved down here to get away from old friends and bad influences. He has a place to live and a job. Just needed a bag of food to get him started.

I asked him if he had found a church home yet.

"No, I'm a little reluctant to start looking for churches. I'm heavily covered with tattoos and feel uncomfortable with people staring at me."

I was silent for a moment, wishing desperately that I could whole-heartedly invite him to our church. But I did have reservations about how well he would be received. Many would welcome him with open arms....but I knew there would be some....

I held his hands and prayed with him. Rejoicing in his salvation and his Savior. Praying for God's provision and that he would soon find a church home where he could experience the awesome worship he encountered in prison.

And all the while, my heart breaking that he felt more freedom in prison than he would in many churches.

Lord Jesus, forgive us for judging people by their appearance. Help us to see them as You do. Help us to be welcoming to all who seek you and make our churches havens for those who hurt and awesome places to worship You. Amen.

6 comments:

Candy said...

This post is sad, but yet so true. It is to bad that we judge people sometimes without knowing them, but I know I have been guilty of it.

Thank you so much for your comment on my blog, Cheri. You certainly are a sweet heart!

Lady Farmer said...

What an awesome post, Cheri! May we all take to heart your/his words and just learn to love others as Jesus would!
Bless your heart for your true Christian love shown to him!

dietingdomesticdiva said...

Thanks for the story. It gives me pause, helps me consider my blessings. I do believe that man would be welcome at North Bay! Our church has such a broad spectrum of folks coming, from the Mayor of Superior, to a motorcycle dude who skips out to smoke a cigarette for a few minutes during the sermon. Several tattoes can be spotted around the sanctuary, including one on an elder's wife!

Becky said...

Sounds to me like y'all had church right there at the table. Amen to that.

thatmom said...

Cheri, thanks for sharing this story. We have a prison in our town and sometimes the young men stay here after they are released because they don't want to be around their former influences. I know exactly what you are saying.

And here is another sad story...when I volunteered at the crisis pregnancy center, I suggested that some older women go through Susan Hunt's wonderful book Spiritual Mothering to be better prepared in mentoring younger moms. His response took by breath away. He said the people in his church wouldn't be open to ministering to "women like that." I suggested he might want to preach through the book of James.

cheri said...

Ladies, thank you all for your kind comments. May we all strive to love as Jesus loves.

thatmom, your sad story hurts my heart. Sometimes it is the older women who need mentoring!