The Smell of Booze, Cigarettes, and Perfume…

The best odors my sanctuary has ever had!  On January 2, 2011, I received a very hard call.  A 20 year old female had taken her life the day before.  The family was devastated and they wanted my help.  I assured them we, the church, would do whatever we could do to help them through this very difficult time.  Long story short, I officiated the funeral services at the church and the place was packed–literally standing room only.  As the service began, it was clear that this was not a Christian crowd.  The smells of booze, cigarettes, and perfume were strong and distinct.  The hopelessness was heavy in this room as Christ was not known by the majority in the crowd. This was a sweet opportunity share to the hope I have in Christ to this group desperate for any sort of hope.  It has been almost a year since this event, and we have seen much fruit from this horrible event.

I would like to share some things I have learned from this event.

1.  Pastor, be out in the community.  Good things happen when you are out.  Get involved in the community you live in.  When I was in seminary a missionary came and shared about their ministry.  She said something I found very profound, “We share Christ because we love the people; we don’t love the people in order to share Christ.”  You may have to ponder that one for a while before you get it.  Do you love and invest in the people in your community genuinely?  If you do they will know it.

2.  Fruit takes time.  Results never come as fast as we like.  As I enter my fifth year at Valley Baptist Church, I am continually amazed by a visit from a family, or see something happen in the life of an individual that I encountered years ago.  I am reminded that my responsibility is to be faithful and God will be the increase in His own timing!  I believe we have to take the long-term approach in reaching our community.  It is more about planting roots, serving, and plowing away in the short term…but then a day comes when fruit starts coming from years of labor.  Don’t loose heart!

4 replies
  1. Jeanne DeBenedictis
    Jeanne DeBenedictis says:

    Thank you Gunnar, That is a terrific post and so very true. I remember our former youth pastor years ago, telling our kids; “People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It is so true. We never know exactly with what or how someone is struggling, until we get close enough to be trusted with real issues that plague everyone’s life at sometime or another. I am so grateful that you were sensitive to the pain of this group of people and were a faithful representative of God’s unconditional love and His grace, mercy and hope.
    Thank you also for the exhortation to get involved in the community and allow people into their lives.. Good and godly counsel.
    May God bless you exceedingly and abundantly in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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