An Unexpected Answer
Last month, I reflected on the lifecycle of the church and challenged you to reflect on the vision for River Hills UMC. One of the questions I asked, “Why does the community need RHUMC?”, was answered in a most unexpected way.
It was midafternoon, around 2:30 p.m. when a teacher from the Early Childhood Center appeared at my door. “Danny’s mom wants to talk with you. Do you have a minute?” The director of the Center had stopped in earlier that day to talk about Danny (name changed). His parents had fallen on difficult times. They owed the Center quite a bit in back tuition. We had helped them get assistance from the county, but Danny had not been back that past week. With both parents struggling to find gainful employment, we were not too concerned that they might have chosen to keep Danny at home, but we knew that he could have really used the positive environment of the Center.
“Tell her to come on back to my office. I’d love to check in with her.”
Almost immediately I knew something wasn’t right. She appeared agitated and wasn’t able to put words together. It was as if her mind was moving so fast, she was only sharing every 17th word out loud. It took awhile to calm her down and piece together why she wanted to talk with a pastor. I listened to a story of a young person whose world had begun falling apart at an young age. Early on she turned to friends to fill the void. When friends would disappoint, she turned to “committed” relationships where, in return for intimacy, she would find comfort. She was young when her first child was born. She loved her child, but it wasn’t enough. A few years later, a second unexpected pregnancy, and then a third. She would marry the father of the third child, but only because they were attending a church in another city where they were pressured to “make it right.” Now the marriage was struggling and Danny’s mom was feeling desper-ately guilty. She was sure it was all her fault and she was getting the life she deserved, because she thought she was unworthy.
It broke my heart. We are children of God. We may not be worthy, but it’s not because of our depravity, but because of the enormity of God’s unending love. She is no less worthy than I.
My heart also broke because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to release her child back to her custody. Drugs had brought on this manic state. She was not a threat to herself or others, but she unable to care for her child. Her two older children were already at a sibling’s house. Some-where deep inside, she knew that she could bring Danny to the church and he would be surrounded by loving and capable people who had his best interest in mind. She shared with us the contact information for her sister-in-law, who was willing to take Danny home until his mom was in a better place. A church member shared an extra car seat with us so Danny could ride safely with his aunt. The next day, the car seat was dropped off with a note of thanks. For now, that’s where the story ends.
At the time of this writing, I don’t know where things stand. Danny hasn’t been back to the Center. We haven’t heard from his mom or sister-in-law. All we have left is Danny’s truck. It’s sitting next to the sidewalk near the RHECC entrance where he left it that day. I have asked that we leave it there until Danny comes back to claim it. Let it be an ongoing reminder of why the community needs River Hills UMC and why we need to keep serving and praying for those in need within our community.
So here are a few more questions to reflect on:
- Does this kind of outreach speak to you about why God needs RHUMC?
- Where do you see pain in our community?
- When has the church been there for you when you have struggled?
- How can we be a more faithful church?
Pastor Robert A. Braudt, Lead Pastor, River Hills UMC