Monday, March 08, 2010
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.