It was one of those warm, sunny, southern Oregon mornings as a crowd gathered for the 11 o’clock church service. It was the early 60s, so everyone was dressed in their church finest, including me with my new suit fashioned in the style of the day.
My wife was greeting at the front entrance when Don walked in. He definitely looked out of place and he knew it. His hair was long and unkempt and his clothes looked like he had slept in them the night before. Because I was the youth leader, my wife brought Don over and introduced him to me. I found out later that he had told her that our church was the sixth church in town he had visited—and he hadn’t felt welcome in any. Our church was going to be his last try. If this didn’t work out he was through with God and Christians.
I remember reaching out my hand and giving Don a warm welcome. But someone distracted me for just a moment and when I looked back, Don was gone. I looked in the sanctuary and there he was, sitting near the front with no one next to him. I knew I had to do something. I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to remove my coat and tie. I walked down the middle isle and sat next to Don. When the service was over I invited him to our home for lunch. He was pleased with the invitation and rode with my family to our house. I was thankful for a wife who knew God was up to something, and she went along with my decision.
We had three teens in our family and they soon involved Don in friendly conversation. The youth group was going to meet in our home that night, and our kids convinced Don that they really wanted him to be there.
Don did stay that evening, and then changes started taking place. He had found people who really cared for him. He saw Jesus in our youth group, and knew they had something he had been looking for all his life. One of the older youth invited Don to live with him until he could find a job. He became one of our most faithful youth group members. Don was later baptized and became a member of our church family that embraced him as one of their own. As I look back, I see the providence of God at work in the life of a lost soul looking for love and acceptance.
Maybe a Don will walk into your church this week.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).