Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On why it’s important to get out more

It's Day 4 in the Spring Harvest and we're all still sane. It's been a good week, Here's a story from it that the person concerned said it was okay for me to share. And I think it's worth sharing.

Anne came for prayer, feeling that she had nothing to offer, that God was distant and that she didn’t amount to anything. She’s not a sophisticated woman. She struggles with poor health, but she remains as active as she can be. After we’d prayed briefly and generally, she told me this story.

One day she was at the bus stop by the crematorium in her town. She often speaks to people at bus stops, so when she saw a slightly dishevelled elderly man, she asked if he was all right. He said he was visiting the memorial for his wife who had died recently.

She asked if he had family and he said that he only had a daughter but didn’t see her because she was a Christian. Anne thought this was a strange response and told him that she was a Christian and asked why he thought his daughter being a Christian was a problem.

He said he didn’t really know but got the impression they probably wouldn’t want him around. He added that his daughter had given him her phone number at his wife’s funeral, Anne suggested he ring her. What had he got to lose, after all?

She got her bus. That Sunday she told a leader at her church what had happened, who strongly advised her not to talk to strangers at bus stops but do something useful in the church instead.

She felt disheartened, guilty and useless.

About three week’s later, having prayed on and off for the elderly gentleman, Anne was getting off a bus in the centre of town when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned to see a smartly dressed, clean shaven man smiling at her. ‘I want to thank you,’ he beamed.

Anne was flummoxed. He’d never seen this man before as far as she knew. Sensing her bewilderment, the man said ‘you were the lady I spoke at the bus stop by the crem a few weeks ago, who told me Christians weren’t so bad and that I should ring my daughter?’ Suddenly she twigged: ‘Oh yes,’ she said.

She hadn’t recognised him because at that first meeting he’d been scruffy and unshaven and really down.

He explained: ‘I rang my daughter and then I went to see her. It was ok. In fact, I now live with her – she and her husband have a large house – and I worship at their church.’ He grinned broadly. ‘So thank you. Life’s come good since I met you at that bus stop.’

So in what sense does Anne have nothing to offer? I wish I had a church full of people who spoke to strangers at bus stops. God see3ms to have a habit of using such conversations to turn people’s lives around. And I wish church leaders would realise that Christians are more use on the streets than in the church building and let them get out more.

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