Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Bruce answered the man. "Yes," he said, "I am an ordained minister, but where did you find out about me?"
The deacon nodded toward the house next door. "Your neighbor, Karen." He hesitated. "I don't know if she told you, but our church is without a pastor. We would like you to come and preach for us."
Bruce was floored. He was being asked to preach based on the recommendation of an agnostic neighbor. "But you don't know anything about me," he stammered. "I don't even belong to your denomination." That didn't seem to matter. So he tried again. "I only preach straight from the Bible; I'm not fancy."
"Good," the deacon's eyes lit up, "that's exactly what we want." he didn't even stop there. "Would you consider coming and being our pastor?"
Bruce held his hands up palms forward. "Wait a minute. You're going way too fast. I will come and preach for you. I have promised the Lord that where ever He sends I will go, but you need to hear me preach before we make any more of a commitment."
That evening, as I sat with Karen on her back deck playing with the dogs, I told her what was happening. "Good," she smiled. "I told Mom they aught to get Bruce as pastor because he practices what he preaches."
I don't know why this should have surprised me, and yet it did. Karen had told us once how she had sat in that church as a child and listened while the pastor who had just been refused a raise, had told his congregation that the Lord had led him on to a different, a bigger, better paying church, and that is what my neighbor always remembered when she thought of church.
But Karen must have seen something else in the previous year or two, times when we relied on the Lord to meet our needs and He came through without us having to ask anyone else. I always confided these thing in her. I loved visiting with her and her dogs, but I never dreamed it would end in Bruce becoming the pastor of her mother's church, but as usual, God has His own very unusual ways of bringing things to pass.
The congregation agreed that they wanted Bruce for pastor, and said they would have a board meeting to discuss his salary. That's where the big test came. We knew how much they had paid the former pastor, but when they told Bruce what they could afford to pay, it was so very much lower that he was insulted.
They had asked him how much he needed to live on and he had told them. It wasn't much, but we could survive on it. Now they were offering him less than half of that. They needed to do things like fixing the kitchen floor, etc. The church was a heritage building and it was very important to them to keep it looking good.
Bruce's insides were churning. "They have insulted my ministry, Lord," he prayed, "They're concerned with their building, but they want to give me next to nothing. It's just not right!"
And then the Lord spoke, and, in that still small voice that is so gentle, he asked, "what if there was one soul in that congregation that I wanted you to reach, would you do it, for that one soul?"
At that, Bruce broke, and the tears started. "I'd do it for nothing, Lord," he answered, and he meant it with all his heart.
God did supply our needs that year. Bruce knew who his real employer was, and we were never left short handed. God did have one precious soul in that church who needed to hear what he had to say. Just before Mary left this world she said to me, "I know that God sent you and Bruce here just for me." Mary is waiting in Heaven for us today because an agnostic neighbor watched our lives and saw something real, and because Bruce was willing to follow God's call regardless of the financial situation.
One neighbor had lost her faith in that church because a minister wanted a better pay check.
The other neighbor found her faith in that church because a minister was willing to do without a better pay check.
For more about Mary, read: The Girl Next Door
For more about Karen read the last blog: The Drought
In the next post: Mental Illness disaster strikes.