Another day of sharing, growing and belief in all that we do.
There was barely time to reflect on the previous week when another one began. There is no greater joy in ministry than when you get time to fellowship with others of like minds. Yes, there are other times when you are helping others different than ourselves, those who need our help to know the way, the truth and the light; they are important. But then there are times when you can speak as freely and deeply as you want with others and for a few moments, life passes by more quickly than is necessary.
Today was another one of those.
However, before I can expound upon today, let me share with you something of note that happened last week, something that was yet another one of those God-moments.
We had planned on working as a group taking down Christmas lights early on in the week but due to weather and illnesses, most of our staff was unable to be there. As foul weather rolled in, we hunkered down and worked on the things we had put off until this time of year. Like the old time settlers, we turn our focus inward taking on tasks that make us grow mentally and prepare for the future. I had begun working on a proof paper, something that I could take and share with those who may question our ability to reference our Waldensian connection back to the time of the Apostles. The research and study are as much fun as they are challenging. Not only do I get to dig back into archives centuries old, but I also get to reference points in scripture that correlate to those ancient events; a win, win either way. The investigative research and study hours flew by and before I realized it, Thursday was staring us in the face.
Yes, it was time once more to get back to taking down and putting away the lights.
However, many of our volunteers were still down with ailments. So, when Thursday morning arrived, there was only going to be three of us able to perform the work necessary for at least four grown men. Desperate for help, a thought came to mind of a young man that had contacted me on FB about possibly being part of the Trail when he graduated college. Knowing he had just graduated and moved back to the area, I messaged him with a plea for assistance early Thursday morning and sent up a small prayer for help; I had nothing to lose.
We began our work and were just about to try to tackle the most difficult part with one man down when suddenly, into the drive pulled the new grad, Chilo. I thanked the Lord for answering prayer. As Chilo walked up, I thanked him for coming and shook his hand. He replied, “Good to see you once more.” We were in the heat of battle, so to speak, so I let the comment go without question as we rushed to our positions and began lowering the heavy towers. From there, we worked as a team, as if we had known one another for many years, and continued to fellowship as we went. Lunchtime arrived and our stomachs were yelling for attention, so Chilo and I took our reprieve at the local pizza parlor. As we sated our hunger, Chilo asked what brought me to the Trail of Faith. I asked had he not heard the testimony, “No,” he replied. So I began sharing the story of prayers answered, the trail of faith of my own, one that began with the spiritual awakening. As I watched the clock, I realized we would have to get back to the Trail, so we reconvened the story while we continued to work on bringing down more archways along the pathway of the Trail. There I began to share with him the point of the story where I had begun to evangelize through my book. In the back of my mind, I had still continued to search for the “why” or “how” of his initial statement of, “Glad to see you once more.” As if we needed confirmation, there suddenly in the parking lot looking lost was stood a young man. I paused our conversation and walked toward him to ask him if I might help him. He had not driven up, like I said, he had just appeared. As I approached him, he turned toward me and I somehow felt I knew him from someplace before. He said he was just looking around and thought he’d stop in. I asked him if we had met before. He looked at me with a puzzled face and then smiled, “Why yes,” he replied, “at the book signing you had at the library here in town two years ago.
My mind raced back and recalled the young man. He had asked many questions as if he was searching that day for something greater than just the story I shared. At this point, most people are asked to enter through the visitor center and encouraged to take the guided or self-guided tour. However, there was a feeling of this moment, this person, this exact time in my testimony he had appeared as if on cue.
God doesn’t mess around.
Knowing how the Trail has become a calling for many, some without knowing, I began to ask him if he had ever seen the inside of the church. As we all walked toward the temple, I began to ask him if he might need prayer today. He nodded that he might. I unlocked the doors and then began to share a bit of what the church and our ancient faith was about. We took our seats in the front of the church. I explained to him how there was something missing and asked him to look around and see what it might be. Both he and Chilo searched and then realized, there was no cross. I then began to explain what the most important thing to those ancient people of the valleys, yes, the very thing they lived and died to protect; the Word of God.
I then looked at our visitor and asked him if there was anything troubling him, anything in his life that might need prayer. He began to choke up as he began speaking in a hushed tone about his mother who was ailing. He had lost his job and was forced to move back in with his parents. It was obvious God had sent him for a purpose this day. We then combined together to say a prayer, all three of us, who a mere 24 hours before would have no idea we would be there in the church this day, praying together in unison.
We closed our prayer and walked out of the church, saying our goodbyes, but welcoming him back whenever he felt the need.
Suddenly the afternoon took on a whole new light.
It was then, the question of why Chilo had introduced himself as saying, “Good to see you once more,” came back to mind. I asked him, how he could say that and where we might have met. He replied that it was during the Waldensian festival three years ago when I had been evangelizing through my book.
Sometimes you know God is watching and then sometimes you know he is surely in our midst; yes, it was one of those moments. Both men had been with me at a point in my life exactly when we had been interrupted in my testimony, by not only one but two witnesses to my story.
Yes, we serve an awesome God!
From there on, it was if Chilo and I had found an ancient tie, one that distance, space or ancestry could not break; our faith in Jesus Christ. While we may not have agreed 100% on all things, we felt a common bond and by the end of the afternoon, I found I kept having to urge him to keep track of his time for fear he was forgetting as did I, for I had a doctor’s appointment that I nearly forgot had it not been for my dear wife calling to remind me.
Yes, time evaporated, leaving us with only memories of our existence with one another.
Today, the fellowship was the same. I met pastor McDevitt of Morganton First Church of God for lunch and it was one of those experiences where you become so wrapped in the conversation that the food’s importance in front of you diminishes to the point it becomes an obstacle. I love those times with brothers and sisters in Christ that allow your heart to open up and something is moved, ideas are formed and future bonds are created. It’s a walk I’ve come to be blessed with more and more.
Godly fellowship can make time disappear, yet our faith is emboldened and we grow together in our walk with God. I am eternally thankful for the position the Lord has placed me and know that time will pass, but as we grow and age, there are many things that build character and strengthen our faith; these are the things we must continue to embrace and lift up each day, sharing with those around us as much as our lives will allow.
Another day, another walk on the Trail.
Thanks be to God in all that we do.