Year of the Open Door
- Wednesday, November 05, 2008
"I saw a church over by the dentist the other day."
I tried to control my enthusiasm. "Well tomorrow's Sunday, you have any plans? We could check the church out, then go to lunch."
During our last visit, I had said to my sister Marlene, "I really think the only thing that will help Amanda is having Jesus in her life." And you too! I'd wanted to shout.
If Marlene had a relationship with Jesus, it wasn't a priority. Years ago, she had asked him into her heart, but she wasn't going to church or spending time in the Word. She didn't have the fellowship of other believers. She was missing out on the blessings that went with a relationship with Jesus Christ. And so was her daughter Amanda. She was unhappy and rebellious, and I was almost certain she didn't know Jesus.
"I don't want to go in there," Amanda said as we neared the door of the church.
My husband Jim and I could feel the spiritual warfare like no other time in our lives. Jim pulled us all over to the side. We prayed for God's guidance and protection, that He would keep Satan away from this girl and allow us to worship Him. Amanda turned back toward the parking lot.
"I'm going in this other door," she said.
We followed Amanda through the side door, which led to the foyer.
"I can hear just fine out here," she said.
"Come on," I pleaded. "Let's just sit in the back."
She took a few more steps, and then stopped again. I whispered, "Amanda, don't let the devil do this to you. Give Jesus a chance for just a few minutes. Let's sit here in the back."
She relented, but we discovered that in this church, one doesn't sit in the back. A finely dressed usher escorted us up the aisle to the front of the church! Amanda sat with her head buried in her jacket hood.
This was like no other church I had been in. I was used to a quieter, more conservative worship service. A large choir in flowing blue and white robes sang exuberantly and joyfully, swaying back and forth. In front of them was a smaller singing group with back-up singers who danced and waved pom-poms. Below the stage, several men and women danced joyfully. I was especially fascinated by an elderly woman dancing slowly in front of the stage. She wore a long pink dress that contrasted beautifully with her ebony skin, a pink bow in her long braided hair, and a radiant smile. I didn't know if this was the type of church Marlene had in mind, or if she even knew what kind of church she was looking for. She did seem fascinated as she looked around at the ethnically diverse congregation. Amanda continued to sit, hunched into her seat.
I whispered to Amanda, "This is sure a wild church! It's not the kind of church I would go to every week, but it sure is fun for today, don't you think? We could enjoy this and maybe next week you could pick a church."
She looked at me and smiled. "I want to sit by Uncle Jim."
Amanda traded places with her mother so she could sit by Jim. I watched as they nudged each other and pointed discreetly. Amanda looked up at the choir. By his motions, I could tell Jim was asking her what would happen if one of the choir members started to sway the wrong way. She raised her hands and slowly began to clap, then swayed a bit with the music and sang. It was truly as if the Holy Spirit had come down, lifted the veil from Amanda's eyes, and softened her heart.
An alter call followed the sermon. With our heads bowed, I prayed. I felt Marlene's hand move when the pastor asked those who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior or rededicate their lives to raise their hands. When we opened our eyes, he asked anyone who had raised their hands to come to the front of the church. Marlene and Amanda's faces were radiant as they listened expectantly to the pastor's prayer and instructions. Then they were led away and the choir started to sing again.
I moved over to the seat by Jim. He took my hand as I sat there with tears in my eyes. After years of prayer, I really didn't expect to see such an incredible answer. Going to church wasn't such a surprise, but Marlene seemed to be pursuing God. Jim squeezed my hand and I could almost hear his familiar assurance and warning. Trust God, Cherry. You're always trying to do His work for Him. At lunch, Marlene and Amanda both said they had gone forward to rededicate their lives.
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