My husband Ray was in full-time ministry for over twenty years. During that time, we were in the role of welcoming people who visited church rather than being visitors ourselves. That has certainly changed this spring. Family visits and homeschool conventions have given us many opportunities to visit churches.We love our own church family, but these away-from-home church experiences have been especially rich this spring.
What a joy it was to be with John’s family and with Bethany’s family in their churches. In April I stood beside John and worshiped with him, Audra, and Henry in their new church family. The tears streamed from my eyes. This Mother’s Day was the first Mother’s Day that our daughter Bethany was a mother. How precious it was for us to spend that day with her, Gregory, and Eva. When she was introducing me to a friend after church, the tears came again.
In May we worshiped with a church in Kirksville, Missouri. Ray spoke that morning on “How Christianity Has Changed the World.” After Ray went to the pulpit, I sat alone on a pew with a family. I was puzzled by them. I just had this feeling of concern. I sat beside the mother. She seemed very unhappy. Her husband was at the far end of our pew. In between were their children. Though the mother seemed sad all of the rest of the time, I noticed that she beamed with joy when she saw her little girl being affectionate with her daddy. I noticed that neither the mother nor the father participated when we shared in the Lord’s Supper. I thought to myself, “I should ask someone about this family,” because they seemed to need some loving attention.
As we visited with homeschoolers after church, a bell rang. One of the ladies said that the bell meant someone was about to be baptized. We followed others into the auditorium to share in the joy. There stood the father who had sat on my pew. He confessed his faith before those of us who were still present after the service. Then he was baptized into Christ. One week later he left for Afghanistan.
Last Sunday we worshiped with friends in a church in a large metropolitan area in the South. “Jesus loves the little children, red, brown, yellow, black, and white” ran through my mind. What a diverse group was assembled to worship. We often hear that we are living in terrible times, that America is in decay, and that things aren’t like they were in the good ol’ days. Of course, I am concerned about many current issues, but all is not worse today. Ray pointed out to me on Sunday afternoon that he and I have lived to see things change radically in the relationships between people with different skin colors who live in America. Here in this metropolitan area where people once worshiped and went to school based on the color of their skin, we joined our voices with people whose ancestors lived in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Despite their different backgrounds and experiences, they are all united in Christ. Those Christians are making a difference in that place.
In every nation the man who fears Him
and does what is right
is welcome to Him.
Acts 10:35, NASB
At each place we visited, we were there with people who already love us. That makes visiting easy. It’s not so easy when you walk into a group and you don’t know anyone. Are there visitors you can welcome? Is there a new homeschooling mother in town who needs encouragement? I want my life and my actions to say, “Welcome.”