Published Nov. 17, 2009

Paul's Epistle...
"Sharing Christ"

Opportunities to share the love of Christ are all around you. You and I just need to be open to recognizing them – and then acting upon them. And it has never been more important than it is today.

A few weeks ago in this space I included stories of how the Gospel was shared with folks who needed it – a homeless man (who later became a preacher) and others (stories submitted by readers) for whom an introduction to Christ was transformational in their lives.

Here is another story – another good example and reminder for each of us – submitted by Kevin McCullough (of the Faithful Friends Quartet) of Homer City, Pennsylvania.

Greetings Paul and Sheila,

As I read the story in this week's letter. I felt I needed to share one of my experiences that is still ongoing but started in July of this year.

My wife and I clean the church we attend. We where there on a Saturday afternoon cleaning when I heard a tapping on the glass. I turned and there was a very thin, very worn middle-aged man. As I opened the door I noticed a very tired and stressed face. He introduced himself as "Jim." He told me that he and his family had been homeless for a few months and just moved into a home across the street from the church.

He was very humble and obviously embarrassed. He said, "I have three little girls and we don't have anything." Then the tears started to come down his worn and tired face. He began telling me some of the misfortune of his life, some of which is the result sin. But he was reaching out to me — a Christian that attends the church across the street from his home!

When he was finished talking he said the only thing I want is some food for my little girls! Well, I was happy to help because our church maintains a small food pantry for this very reason. I gave him a box and began placing items in the box, and to my surprise he stopped me. Telling me that all he could take would be something that didn't need [to be] heated, kept cold or used milk! So I asked why and he replied [that they] don't have electricity, a stove or anything to heat with or a frig.

So he left that day with some pop tarts, dry cereal, bread and peanut butter.

The next day was Sunday, and at our church in the summer months we set tables up under the car pull-up for a "vegetable share." Everyone that gardens brings something and places it on the table and when you leave [you] just help yourself. Well I could not get Jim off my mind so I made up a couple of bags of vegetables and walked across the street to find him and his girls. I was looking for a house! That is not where I found them. They were living in a spare 16' x 14' shed! And they literally had nothing — not even a rug to sit or sleep on!

They received the vegetables as if it were porter house steak!

As I walked across the street to the church I noticed the parking lot full of cars, friendly, neatly dressed people inside [and sitting] in padded pews. My heart was broken from what I had just seen across the street from our church!

Thank goodness for a church that is not regimented so that you can't make an announcement unless it's in the program! I got up, made way to the front and asked if I could address the congregation on something I felt was important. So I proceeded to tell the congregation of the situation. I am happy to say that the people jumped to action starting that very afternoon with a home cooked meal for dinner. In the course of about four days they were completely outfitted with electricity, cloths, furniture, appliances, and plenty of food.

The highlight of the story is, he and his family have been attending church services and have become part of the church family! And just last week Jim went the altar and gave his life over to the Lord. PRAISE THE LORD! And the girls are showing great interest in Sunday school and Wednesday kids club.

Although there is much, much more to the story and disappointments along the way, the bottom line is there are many hurting people in this world and many of them live in our back yards!  And across the street!  I and our church have learned a valuable lesson from this. And it has changed the heart of our church! We have always been a missional church, but this has hit home.

I pray that God will help me, brothers and sisters in Christ, to "see" the fields that are white for harvest!

— Kevin McCullough

Kevin's story reminded me of a song Susan Whisnant recorded a few years ago called "The Church Across the Street."* It's the story of a young woman who lived across the street from a church, but no one from the church ever contacted her. Although single, she learned that she was pregnant — and she was devastated. She was greeted warmly and reassuringly at the abortion clinic. But she was ignored by the "church across the street."

And at the church across the street
The band played on
The choir sang another verse
Of another lovely song
But her world was crashing
In apartment thirty-three.
And she wondered if she would ever meet
Someone from the church across the street...

This young woman made a devastating choice and now lives with regret, longing for something better.

And she wonders if she will never meet
Someone who could help her with her need
Maybe someone from the church across the street.

Is there someone across the street from you who needs the Lord? Next door? This would be a great time to find out.

- Paul

* "The Church Across the Street," written by Timothy Mark, Global Outreach Music BMI.

Copyright 2009 Heil Enterprises. All rights reserved.