A young woman walked out her back door, across her back yard, and into her neighbor’s yard. As she crossed into the neighbor’s back yard and approached the back door, she prayed for an opportunity to find a Bible study. She knocked on the door and a young mother answered. After a gentle greeting between the two women, she said, “I really love studying my Bible. If you are interested, I’d love to study the Bible with you.” The young mother of two, whose husband was gone most of the time working and playing, heard those words. She smiled and agreed that she would like to study the Bible.
The Bible study began with them sitting down together in the young mother’s home at her kitchen table. The young mother smoked and unknowingly put her cigarette in an ashtray right under the nose of the woman who was giving the Bible study. Never one time did the woman complain or say anything about the cigarette smoke. After completing the Bible study series, the woman invited the young mother to come to her church. So, one Sabbath that young mother got her two daughters cleaned up and dressed, and off to church they went.
When the husband of the young mother came home from work, he saw a difference in his wife. She had experienced Christ, and it changed her life. The husband wanted the peace and joy that he saw in his wife.
The two daughters loved Sabbath School. They sang the songs at home and were excited that they’d made new friends. One Sabbath morning the girls approached their dad and begged him to come to church with them. The young father, feeling guilty, said that he would go with them that day.
After parking their car, the young family walked together to the front door of the Seventh-day Adventist church. The husband had never been there before. In fact, he hadn’t been in a church for 12 years. His throat was dry and his hands were wet. The front door opened, and a woman with her arms wide open and a smile even wider greeted the young family by hugging each one with a long, powerful hug. The young husband was shocked at the display of “welcome.” He broke out into a sweat. He hadn’t hugged anybody but his wife for years. Not knowing how to protest, he was reluctantly hugged by this stranger. Once seated in the church, the young husband and father was very uncomfortable during the church service, worried if he was going to get hugged on the way out. After the service ended, the deacons came to usher the people out of the church. The young mother and the two daughters went toward the foyer and the front door. The husband panicked and could not force himself to go back toward the foyer and be invaded by the hugger. He went in the opposite direction to a doorway at the front of the church that he had not entered before. As he opened the door and entered a hallway, a gray-haired woman was coming toward him. He held his breath and wondered if she, too, was a hugger. She extended her hand and said, “You’re Teresa’s husband, Dave, aren’t you?” He nodded his head and said, “Yes, I am.” Cradling his hand with a gentleness he had never felt, she said, “I’ve been praying for you. I hope you’ll come back and visit us again.” He felt touched by God.
She was so sweet and so kind that this moment became embedded in the young father’s heart and mind. I know this because I was that young father. My heart was hardened by the world I lived and worked in, but God used this woman to crack that hardness. I went back to the church the next week so I wouldn’t disappoint this special gray-haired woman. I’ve never stopped going to church from that time. Her name was Carol Hainault. She passed away a few years ago, but I will never forget her.
I wonder who will take her place when the next young family walks into our church?
Southern Union | April 2018
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