On Sunday evening Tam and I participated in a joint gathering of churches in Shirley. One of the purposes of Sunday evening’s gathering was to share stories about what our local churches have been doing in serving, listening, and ministering in the town. Listening to the creative ways local church families have engaged people of the community in conversations was inspiring! I shared three stories about ways we have done so in Dickens Heath Village Church (DHVC) and thethirdplace.
With the recent retirement of one church leader, and the move of another out of the area, I have become the longest serving church leader in the community. It will be 20 years next April. Gatherings such as we enjoyed on Sunday evening are especially fun for us because we know so many folks in these local churches. And we get to know others we didn’t know we already knew, if that makes any sense!
Because I spoke from the front, one young man came forward to introduce himself and his friend to us. Richard is brother to Ian, and both are sons of Margaret. We’ve known Margaret since the mid-1990s when she attended the very first DivorceCare course Tammy and our teammate Will Walls started for people going through divorce or breakup of long-term relationship. Margaret was freshly divorced and hurting. We helped her in the years before DHVC was publicly launched, and would come to events and activities in our home or with DHVC.
And then something completely surprising happened after she had finished re-training to be a nurse. She and her husband worked things out, remarried, and moved to the southern part of England. One of her other sons, Ian, before he likewise moved elsewhere out of the area, came regularly to our Sunday morning worship services. Richard, one of Margaret’s children we hadn’t met, remained in the area.
Besides helping us make the connection between him and his family, Richard wanted to say hi and give us an update on his family. It was all too brief! But I did find myself feeling grateful that we’ve been around Shirley long enough to see that we’ve had a part, along with many others, in the healing and caring for families experiencing difficulty. So today, I’m thankful to God that we have longevity in the community and get to see some of the fruit of showing God’s love to people. And that’s Day Eighteen of ’30 Days of Thankful.’