Easter and other church stories

Published 6:19 pm Sunday, April 23, 2023

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I love being a pastor and serving churches because despite the problems, churches truly make a difference in people’s lives. Here are a few stories.

A woman was devastated when she unexpectedly found herself in the middle of a divorce. She had all the emotions of betrayal, shame, loneliness, insecurity and desperation. She had no family in the area to turn to for help. A church member invited her to come. She was welcomed so warmly and genuinely that she returned. The friendship and faith of the people she met combined with the inspiration of the services seemed to be aimed right at her. She said, “I felt the true presence of Jesus Christ. I have never been so happy in my life. I try every day to show the gift of God’s love to all I meet.”

One church member is a nurse at a hospital. She will often offer to pray with patients. In her words, the Holy Spirit “directs me to offer this precious gift of prayer.” Being a patient at a hospital can be an overwhelming experience. She feels called to offer the healing comfort of God.

Following a hurricane, the call went out to assemble flood buckets filled with items that enable people to begin the overwhelming job of cleaning up after a flood. Within days, hundreds of buckets were assembled by several churches and shipped to where they were needed.

At a recent youth camp, crews were assembled to do work projects. One group took on the job of building a wheelchair ramp for an elderly woman with health conditions. She seldom left her home because of the steps. After the ramp was completed, the woman smiled and told the group her wheelchair bound sister could now visit. When they left that Friday afternoon, the woman and her sister were in the living room together for the first time in many years.

A letter: “We regularly host community dinners for those who need a free home-cooked meal. Recently, we placed prayer cards on the tables. The concerns written on the cards are shared with our prayer team. Many of our guests look forward to the prayer cards and reach for them soon after finding their seats.” 

When newspapers were filled with news of violence, a youth director asked for help from the congregation to bake cookies and the youth delivered them to police and fire stations, rescue squads and places of public service so we could say, “Thank you and we are praying for you.” 

These everyday life-changing miracles bear testimony of the critical role of God’s church. Some of the most exciting and fulfilling moments of my life happened through a church or church member.

That’s how we become a church for Jesus Christ. The worship service is part of that guidance. The music, the prayers and sermon are all supposed to help. Worship should lead to deepening relationships followed by ministry and missions throughout our community and world.   

An email: “Thank you for responding so quickly to my prayer request! I felt a sense of hope, and quite literally knew that it was God’s love and mercy working through your prayer team. What comfort it brings to know God still works in my life! I don’t feel so isolated and alone and am happy to be alive. I know there is a network of spiritually-fit people who truly care and are praying for me!”

As we continue celebrating Easter, we remember the horrible week Jesus endured. The betrayal by Judas, the denial by Peter, the arrest, the trial, the beating, the crucifixion and death. But three days later came the resurrection. Christ died but out of that death came new life and out of that new life, the church was born, to represent Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Rev. Larry E. Davies can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.