I have attended Mass every Sunday for 57 years. As a Catholic, it is a part of life. That faith drew me to Maggie’s Place. A few months into my year of MissionCorps service, a particular Sunday morning looked quite different.
I attended a Christian service with one of the moms in the home, who is also a friend. She was more than happy to bring me along. She drove us back to her old neighborhood, affectionally called, “The Hood.”
We arrived a little late but greeters were still at the door welcoming us to the service. I believe when we arrived the congregation had already been singing for an hour. Inside, the walls and ceiling were black. In fact, the only light came from spotlights lighting the stage and a back drop that read, “Fire and Water”. The congregation was rocking the room; everyone standing, waving their arms in the air and singing.
Preacher Lee, a prison preacher for 27 years, spoke first. He is a tall man with a commanding presence. He spoke of bringing Christian Rap into prisons. Wardens call him to bring his ministry to them. His group has been allowed access to the prison yards, bringing Yard Leaders to Christ. Pastor Lee is a powerful witness.
Soon after, Pastor Gus, the senior pastor, made an Altar Call. My friend explained that many of the single men come from neighboring halfway houses. The man next to me seemed nervous. When the minister said they didn’t have to come up front but could stand in place and ask Christ into their hearts, the man next to me sighed and stood up. It became apparent later that walking was difficult for him. If Pastor Gus had not accommodated him in this way, he might have missed his chance. That same spirit of accommodation is present at Maggie’s Place homes, as we create a safe and welcoming space for our moms.
Pastor Gus addressed the congregation about sin. There seemed not a righteous person in the room. Everyone carries the burdens of sin; but it was apparent sins had been laid down. There was also great humility. Pastor Gus’s sermon centered around the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the fires in the west and the earthquake in Mexico. He told us, when hard times hit, lift up your head and dig in. Let people help you, especially when you’re centered in Christ. As a MissionCorps, I’ve sometimes felt this work of service would be more difficult and not nearly as satisfying if we were not centered in Christ.
A member introduces two friends who are heroin addicts. Pastor Gus calls them to the front. A young woman, clean for 5 years, prays over them as does the congregation. I thought of a verse I’ve known since childhood: Mark 2:17 ” It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
I would not have had this experience if it hadn’t been for Maggie’s Place and the beautiful women we serve. To experience a Christian service different than my own reminds me that the love of Christ is everywhere and we need to remember we are all one body. We all need to do our part, and at Maggie’s Place, there are so many doing their part. Whether it be a MissionCorps, volunteer, donor, staff member, or mom, all are committed to the same goal: showing the love of Christ.
Bless the Lord,