Last week I wrote about God’s plan for His people in community. This week I would like to share a specific situation of how a community of people can embrace an unbelieving family in such a way that that family can see Christ. Here’s the story:
A former Chapel Hill Bible Church mission partner living in another state befriended a mom with a child the same age of one of her own at a play activity. They exchanged contact information and became friends. Soon Annie, our former member, learned that her friend was not a believer and had never known anything about the Bible except that her grandmother had given her one when she was a child. Over a little less than two years, they spent much time together with many trips, play dates and celebrations. This new friend had a pretty rough past with four marriages, other children, many many difficult things, and a husband who came from a difficult home with no family support. He had refused any interest in spiritual things and only once had agreed to go with them to church on a Christmas Eve.
As Stephen and Annie shared their very lives, cars were borrowed, toys were exchanged, and gifts were given. Much intimacy developed about beliefs and life difficulties and challenges, and prayers were offered on behalf of these unbelieving friends. The husband accepted a job many states away and arrangements were made for them to spend their final few days before moving with the Hans.
One night God revealed His love – and after repentance a new believer was filled with wonder and questions about her new faith. However, sleepless nights and some mental issues required hospitalization for this newly believing young woman.
Her husband was witness to the community of faith through the Hans’ life group. Members helped with packing, moving, cleaning, childcare and support. He attended the life group gathering for a Sunday sermon which happened to be on Christian community – an experience he had not had growing up. His young life had been spent with a mother running from the law, constantly moving and attending 14 schools. He said he would have to rethink all he had believed about God and faith. Most people he had known had identified Catholic, but now he saw faith as a way of life. Another prayer answered. The husband stated, “You may be worried that I think my wife’s declaration of faith is really craziness, but of all things, I hope she does not lose her faith.”
Hospital discharge in the morning, packing all day, and then leaving late at night – this precious family is on their way to a new place where we have prayed for open arms for them, for welcoming Christians and people of faith. Stephen wrote three churches in the new town, but only one responded about his wife in real estate.
We must keep praying and ask how do we open our hearts to others? Will they know us by our love? Will we be the unified body as Christ prayed?
What a beautiful testimony about God’s work in this life group to bring a family into His kingdom!
May we all be praying for God to give us opportunities such as this. May He keep our hearts attuned to His so that we are watchful for God’s work around us!