I had been contemplating posting another post on social distinctions when the Muskegon Chronicle ran this story here on the front page today.
I’ll explain more about that in a bit. First, way back, two years ago when God first gave me the lesson that started it all (see my post on 1-16-07), there were a couple of incidents that caused some of my predilections for the way I view people to change significantly. They both involve the same person.
This lady attended our church at the time on a regular basis. She rode the church bus faithfully each week. She lives in an adult foster care home. To talk with this lady, you quickly understand why she is in adult foster care. Conversations are usually pretty one-sided. She is very nice, but very shy and withdrawn. She never initiates any conversation. My attempts to talk with her are met with one word responses. And to this day, I believe she still thinks my name is Josh, even though I nicely correct her each time she says it.
She attended the Ambassador’s Sunday School Class, which I substituted as a teacher a couple of times when these stories happened. The first time, I was taking prayer requests. This lady asked for prayer that she would give her mind to God and not to the devil. On another occasion, I took prayer requests and someone asked for prayer for one of their parents who was sick. I then took volunteers from the class to pray for each individual need. When I asked who would pray for this person’s parent who was sick, two people each raised their hands to volunteer to pray. One was a godly, elderly lady who has been in our church for many years. The other was this lady of whom I am currently writing. I remember the thoughts that went through my mind at the time. "Surely the elderly lady would be the better choice to pray for this person’s parent. How much can this other lady actually remember concerning the request? Would she understand what she is praying for?" But then I realized that I would have to slight one of these ladies. The elderly lady was sitting behind the other lady. The elderly lady could see the other lady’s hand up, but the lady in front didn’t realize the elderly lady was in back of her with her hand up. Then I remember thinking, "The elderly lady isn’t going to mind being slighted. This lady here, though, is showing great courage in raising her hand to help in prayer. Perhaps this is the first time she has ever volunteered to pray. I should encourage her. God will hear her prayers just the same as any other." So I asked this lady to pray for this person’s parent who was sick. When it came time for her to pray, she prayed just the same as anyone else would pray. Her sentences were well structured. She knew exactly who she was praying for and even mentioned some other things in her prayer that showed she had been listening intently each week to what was transpiring in the life of the person she was praying for.
Then there was the Sunday when I taught "the lesson", (see my post on 1-16-07). After talking about those who don’t have as much, those who have more, and how God wants us to share between us, I opened it up for discussion. I did so by stating the premise that God wants the body of Christ to come together and share, yet Satan tries to divide the body of Christ. I asked what were some of the things that Satan was using to divide the church. I had hoped someone would catch on to the theme of what I had been saying and mention this. I got some good responses, but not along the lines of what I had been talking about. The things that they mentioned that divide the body of Christ were primarily Age and Music. Then this lady raises her hand so I call on her. She says, "I think he divides those who have jobs from those who don’t have jobs." That was it. I focused on her terminology of "have" and "don’t have". Obviously, as someone who can’t hold a job, she had felt this type of separation from those who are able to hold jobs. Here this lady had caught on to what I was saying more so than the others in the class because she had been placed in a lower class by those around her. After she mentioned this, another lady with a physical disability mentioned that Satan tries to divide those who own their own homes from those who do not. This lady also rents an apartment. We have all these invisible barriers between the have’s and the have-not’s.
Then I read the front page of the Muskegon Chronicle today and see Matt’s picture. Matt attends our church, but he lives in foster care. He has been a good testimony over the years, yet because of his disabilities, some would never consider befriending him or someone like him. There are invisible barriers that many are just unwilling to cross, even for the cause of Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people are rude to him. I just don’t see anyone in our church (aside from perhaps PN8) willing to be his friend, as in, visit him at his house, go out to lunch with him, call him on the phone, etc.
Would you develop a friendship with someone who lives in an adult foster care home? Would Jesus?
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman