Because we are very seldom able to attend our home church on Sundays, it is difficult to serve in the usual ways. I decided to have a “hello” ministry! On my way to church, I ask the Lord to lead me to people who would benefit from a greeting, who need someone to show an interest in them. We arrive at least 20 minutes before the service and I keep my eyes open for folks I haven’t seen at church before. I have promised the Lord that I will act upon His promptings and stop to speak to anyone whom I don’t recognize! This may not seem like much of a ministry, but have you ever heard the comment, “I visited that church, and NOBODY even spoke to me!” At least when I have greeted a visitor warmly, they won’t be able to honestly say that nobody spoke to them.
Last summer I was having one of those tiring, difficult Wednesdays…at the supper table, I expressed to my husband that I wished we could just stay home because I was tired and crabby, and he was actually not feeling well, either. But we would have to be on our deathbed to stay home, so, we went, but I was crabby. Near our car in the parking lot, there was a van with Tennessee license plates. The entire back of that car was covered with conservative bumper stickers. I made a snide comment about people who think everyone should have to read their opinions as they drive down the road. (Did I mention I was crabby?!)
As I hurried down the aisle, I walked right past two women whom I did not recognize. They looked at me, and I at them, but I kept on going, without stopping. I got about 5 feet away when the Holy Spirit reminded me of my “hello ministry.” So I turned around and went back. “How long have you been attending Calvary?” I asked.
The answer was delivered in an obvious Tennessee drawwwl, “This is our first time here.” Uh-oh! I was talking to the very same people whom I had only moments before criticized for their outspoken bumper stickers! Things were about to get interesting.
“Are you just visiting the college?” I asked sweetly (not so crabby anymore!)
“No, I live about 6 miles northeast of here.”
Surprise. “I live about 6 miles northeast of here!”
More southern drawl, “Yes, maam, a little town called Lebanon.”
More surprise. “I live in Lebanon!”
To make a long story shorter, Becky told me that she and her mama from Tennessee had come to Calvary, hoping to find in that large congregation someone who could support and encourage her. She was going through a divorce, and had two little boys. Becky’s mother would soon be returning home, and didn’t want her daughter and grandchildren to be without someone who would pray with and minister to them.
I took down Becky’s address and called on her the very next day. We have prayed together, cried together, studied the Bible together, and now are truly sisters in Christ. I am so humbled to think that the Lord would still lead a crabby Christian to a ministry opportunity (certainly, I did NOT deserve it!) I also think about what I would have missed if I had either stayed home, or if I had decided to ignore the prompting I clearly felt to turn around and say “hello.”
Maybe when we are tempted to skip church services for the wrong reasons, we should consider that perhaps we would be missing out on an opportunity to be a blessing. Maybe every church member should learn the power of a “hello ministry.”