There have been a lot of people in my life who have been instrumental in helping to develop my faith in Christ. Without some of them, I would have been one of the lost youth of our nation that I wrote about yesterday. Today I want to highlight three people who were there for me when I needed them most, even though I didn’t always know or understand what was happening.
The first person I want to highlight was named Clarissa. I don’t remember her last name, and I haven’t seen her in 35 years, but I wish I could thank her for what she did for me. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t take me to church. But in the sixth grade, Clarissa invited me to go to her church youth group with her. Before long I was attending the Wednesday night youth group, a Tuesday night Missionettes groups (kind of like Girl Scouts), and church and Sunday school every Sunday. My dad would take me to these events and drop me off, and one of the parents would take me home. I even attended a four-day camp with the Missionettes group. I came to know who Jesus was both from the Bible lessons I received and the love of the members of that congregation.
At the end of the seventh grade my family moved two states away. Although I corresponded with some of the friends I had made there, after a while I lost touch. I didn’t make any friends in my new town who were interested in church, and I lost touch with God as well. But a seed of faith – a very large seed – was planted in my heart by Clarissa and her church family.
The second person I want to highlight was named June. I met her many years later. She was married to someone my husband worked with, and she sometimes babysat my young son when I was trying to get some work done. During this time I was struggling with major depression and had been for six years. One day, when she was babysitting my son and I was sitting at my computer trying to write a memo, I thought to myself that my husband and my son would be better off if I was dead. I felt like I would never be free from depression because I’d been treated by doctors for so long with no relief.
June found out about what I was going through, and she invited me to a women’s Bible study at her church on Tuesday mornings. It was hard to go, but June kept at me and she encouraged me to go whenever I was feeling down. The women in that group were a Godsend. They prayed for me and with me, and they loved me even though I was a mess. It was during the time that I attended this weekly Bible study that God showed me what was needed for healing of my depression. It was through things the women prayed out loud for me and encouragement they gave me that helped me to understand that anger that I was holding tight to and guilt that I was afraid God would never forgive that was the root of my spiritual depression. I’m not sure I would be here today if it was not for June, who helped to water the seed of faith and help it grow.
The third person I want to highlight is my friend Lee. She is the most exuberant and encouraging woman of God that I think I have ever known. When our son was about four, my husband decided he wanted to attend a Lutheran church because he had been raised Lutheran, instead of the Nazarene church where I was attending Bible study with June and going to Sunday services. One of the first people who welcomed me at the Lutheran church we started to attend was Lee. She invited me to a Thursday evening Joy of Living Bible study, and always encouraged me in the years that study ran.
Lee was there for me whenever I needed someone to talk to, and she would always insist on praying for me right then and there if I told her of a problem I had. I remember one time when I was really struggling with a particular sin I just couldn’t seem to deal with, even though I had prayed about it many times. It wasn’t something I could bring up at Bible study. But I could tell Lee anything and she would never judge. So I called Lee and she prayed through it with me, and encouraged me to trust in Jesus to give me strength to overcome. And the amazing thing is that He did! Although we do not currently attend the same church, Lee continues to be one of my very best friends and someone I can call no matter what.
These are just three of the many Christians who have encouraged me and helped me to grow closer to Jesus. They have inspired me to do what I can to be an encouragement to others. Pondering My Tuesday Three, I realized that you never know when your encouragement of another or inviting them to do something with you might be just the thing they need to help them along their journey towards faith in Christ. Your kindness might be the lifeline that they need. You might be the instrument of Jesus’ saving grace in their life.