Have you ever just been driving down the road when suddenly you see something that brings a smile to your face? Ever been sitting in your favorite chair, minding your own business, when your spouse or a child runs up and gives you a kiss - for no particular reason? How about flipping through an old photo album when a photo brings back a fond memory that was long forgotten?
We had one of the moments tonight. We were dealing with some of the mundane tasks that go along with planting a church; struggling through the paperwork and legal-ese. Some people consider that fun, but it's definitely not my forte.
We met for over six hours in a restaurant. As we were getting ready to leave, we asked our very patient server for the check and found out that someone had already paid for our meals. In fact, all we ended up paying for was one milkshake! That made for one very happy unexpected moment, but that was just the beginning.
She mentioned that she was a student. After telling us that she is a student at a local Christian college, she asked if we had been studying the Bible. We told her that we were working on church documents and had indeed been studying the Bible as part of that.
Then, she asked the normal question, "What church do you attend?"
We told her that we are starting a church on Main Street in Greenville, and I gave her one of my hot-off-the-press business cards.
She said, "Oh? That's so exciting!"
"We think so too."
"You just don't know how exciting this is" she said, "My friend and I used to go downtown often. Rather than witnessing by hitting people over the head with a Bible, I would take my guitar and we'd sit and sing songs to witness. We would pray that the Lord would send someone to start a church down there that would love everybody."
I told her that our stated values include this, "We want to be a place where everyone is loved equally and accepted. It won't matter if you work in City Hall or if you're homeless, you'll be welcome at Transformation House."
"See," she said, "That's what we were praying for."
We finally let her leave - with a hefty tip - so she could finish her homework, and we all left so encouraged! Our serendipitous encounter show how God has answered a prayer that Judy and I have been praying for many years, "Lord, protect the people of our city until you open the door for us to reach them."