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Week 4 - Personal Stories

This week we have two very different stories of prejudice. First, a pastor’s wife shares her story of being judged by her age. The second story concerns the kinds of prejudice that we often encounter in our churches—and our hearts.

Karoline’s Story
Age is a funny thing. For so many years of my life, I wanted to be older. Older so that I could date, drive, go to college, marry, have children, etc. you name it. Older so that people wouldn’t brush me off as too young to know what I was talking about. My husband and I are in ministry. I am the “pastor’s wife”. I recently had a respected Christian woman from a church where we were on staff quip all too easily about my husband and me, “But they are so young, what do they know about ministry?” Here I was again, wishing I was older, so that the women in the church would think my words mattered and my husband respected. When would I ever be old enough? Was it when my kids would be in high school? Or do I have to have an empty nest?

My husband and I have recently been reconnected with the pastor that played a huge role in our spiritual growth in college. He had heard of what the Lord was doing in the church we are now serving. He said some words that have felt so good to hear, “I am proud of you, sincerely. Anybody who stays in the "good fight" even when the devil tries so hard to take us out is worthy of respect...” And there it was…a pastor who mentored us and married us was respecting us. I had to hold back the tears as I realized how much those words meant to me.

We all believe the Lord when He says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).” But to actually put it into practice is another thing. As much as being dismissed because of my age has hurt me, I am convicted to realize my own tendencies. Do I listen to counsel from a woman younger than me the same way I do an older woman? No, I am ashamed to say that I don’t, and I should. Though age brings with it great experience, it is not the final test as to the worth of someone’s words. If the Lord thought it acceptable to speak through a donkey (Numbers 22:1-38), I must not dismiss the counsel of my younger sisters in Christ.

Meagan’s story
Right now there is a man who has been coming on and off to the church for worship over the last year and a half. He looks like he doesn't care about his appearance. His hair is wild with a wild beard. He has a belly, and his pants don't hitch up over his belly. He wears old ragged looking t-shirts that don't completely cover his rounded flesh. He has very poor social skills. He had an abusive father, an absent mother, was in the "slow" class in school, and has gone from one manual labor job to another over his working years (he is 45 years old). He is a single person.

When he first came to the church, people were mildly friendly to him. But when he kept coming, and when he started coming to events, Bible studies, and wanted to help with service projects, I noticed people keeping their distance, ignoring him, etc. I have been interested and frustrated at what I have observed. So, it was okay when he was just a strange visitor - but it's not okay when he says, "I want to be part of this family." Granted, he is definitely not the usual kind of guy, who sits in the pews in my rural congregation, and I personally feel a bit uncomfortable around him - but I believe God is stretching this body of believers to truly become the body of Christ.

5 comments:

jjdsc said...

I have seen that happen in different parts of the church. It really is a shame and I need to confess and the people in church doing this need to confess. O Lord have mercy on us.

learning every day said...

I have also seen this happen. Years ago, a young man came to a church I was attending. I was "greeting", at the front of the church when he walked in, he was obviously living a very hard life. He seemed so self-conscious and aware of his problems.
One of the people who was suppose to be "greeting" with me, treated this man with such contempt, with just an obvious glare of disgust. I have never forgotten that, at this point the young man got her message loud and clear, I doubt if he ever came back. I remember him walking by me, I don't think I ever got to say anything to him. But, I did pray. And, over 20 years later I still recall the look on his face. The point to me was, he had a desire to go to church for some reason,or he would not have been there. Maybe a family member had been praying for him, as I have for my family members.
I hope I would never do this even in a lesser degree. Jesus came for those who need him. I have no right to judge anyone.

learning every day said...

I just wanted to reiterate that this is not the church we attend now. This incident happened about 20 years ago.
BAF is very much a soul winning church. And, I have seen over the 7 or 8 years that the Pastor, and the Pastor's under him really have a heart of God toward people. BAF is a soul winning church. I really love it !

Twisting His Arm said...

BAF is just about almost PERFECT, isn't it?!?!? :-)

learning every day said...

Yes, I agree with you, twisting his arm !
The ministry at BAF blesses all of us. No matter age,marital status,etc. It truly is a blessing !