Last night I drove 90 minutes south to attend Nathan's program. He's traveling with a missionary group from Jews for Jesus called The Liberated Wailing Wall. They sing and do drama and raise money and awareness for their evangelistic efforts among the Jewish population. My thoughts about the organization aside, it was a good program, and it was really good to see Nathan again.
I arrived at this little church in Granite City, Illinois about 20 minutes before the advertised start of the program. There were about 40 people already in the fan-shaped sanctuary, and the average age of the attenders was someplace on the high side of 65. Sitting off to the by herself left was a lady that was closer to my age, and also was wearing jeans. I walked over and introduced myself and had a seat in the pew in front of her, and catty-corner so we could talk. The second thing out of her mouth after her name was: "I was baptized three weeks ago!". She radiated excitement about that. Sometimes I wish I could whip up that much excitement. "I was baptized 33 years ago!". Her face was care warn and she was obviously quite mid-lower class - but as she told me about how joyful just coming to church made her, she included me in her happy glow. The minister of the church walked up to us.
"Welcome to our Church, God loves Ya!" He said to me. How could I help but smile back? He turned to my new friend. "Sister Darla, how are things with you and your family?" She chatted a bit about some issues obviously known to this man. "God loves that boy of yours, too!" He said with one of those Big Televangelist Grins, "Just keep praying, Just keep Praying!". Soon we were surrounded by other happily chatting people, and then the program started.
A church where the minister intones "Raise your HANDS to the LORD and pray with Me!" would set me giggling on a regular basis, but it is obviously the perfect place for my new sister Darla, who I'll not likely see again this side of heaven.
You Go, Darla. Mister Minister with the swoopy hair and booming voice, You Go.
God Loves Ya!