Six days after my 18th birthday, my high school sweetheart and I fled to Wise, Va., to be wed – much to the shock of my family. I had always been a (mostly) obedient kid, but this was an out-of-the-box move.
The first week, I declared to my new groom that I didn’t have to go to church anymore if I didn’t want to. (I was an idiot.)
We skipped one week.
My newly beloved had been saved a few months before our elopement – praise the Lord. His church, Sidney Missionary Baptist Church, welcomed me with open arms.
A few months into our married life, a revival was scheduled at Sidney Church. The evangelist, Bro. Thurmond Coleman from Louisville, would change our lives forever.
As is often the custom in the mountains, the older ladies of the church had the visiting preacher over for supper before services. Bro. Thurmond and his wife were there, of course, but they also invited this young, newly married couple in the church. Everybody knew I couldn’t cook so we made the circuit with them! We trekked from house to house each evening dining on delicious homemade meals and warm-hearted fellowship.
God was definitely at work during those special suppers. Bro Thurmond and Cora became treasured friends; Bro. Thurmond became my beloved’s mentor.
This week, we have been in revival at Fitzpatrick. Last Sunday morning, I bustled around the kitchen before the 8 a.m. service. As I tenderized meat and prepared cornbread dressing, I pondered how the years have passed. Now, I am one of those older women serving dinner to the evangelist! I remembered all the good cooks at different churches who blessed me and my beloved. Several are now in heaven.
This day, we were having pot roast, potatoes and carrots. Peggy King’s almost famous Fresh Apple Cake was for dessert. Then, to the 11 o’clock service, our precious friend, Sandy Brown, came carrying a Cream Puff Cake – our fave from 20 years ago. I burst out, “Ohmygoodness! You won’t believe this. We are feeding the evangelists today.” What a sweet treat. When they tasted it, their eyes rolled back in their heads.
I’ve always heard about “entertaining angels unaware” from Hebrews 13:2. My favorite is the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation: “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” I’m pretty sure back in 1981 nobody thought WE were angels, just some young kids starting out. But they had mercy and good food.
Time has moved on and those young kids have grown and our roles have changed. Over the last 20-plus years my beloved has been a pastor, many a preacher has shared our table. What precious times for us.
Before, during and after a meal is enjoyed, there is always a time of telling stories. My beloved and I love to hear how people came to know Jesus, how they met their spouse, how they ended up in ministry (when applicable), and how they came to call Kentucky home. When people share their story, you find out so much about them. You understand them a little better and are often stirred by what they have shared.
We are all busy these days, headed somewhere in a big hurry, but if you think about it, might there be someone God wants you to encourage over an evening meal? You don’t have to cook, either. Tonight, we supped at Billy Ray’s. We laughed hard and listened well as others talked.
Watch for ways to connect with people around you through a meal and then start asking questions. You may be amazed at what you learn. The fellowship may be sweeter than dessert.