For more than fourteen years, I think, Mark and Rose have shouldered a special ministry in the heart of Kitchener with a particular niche for the handicapped and disadvantaged. There was a time when Hilary and I attended their Bible study regularly in the mid-week.
Monthly they offer a men's fellowship breakfast. Now it is held in a new facility close to Victoria Park which is part church, part personal residence and part apartment for otherwise homeless men. I was privileged to attend this past Saturday and to give a short message after the meal.
Jason is a long-time friend of theirs who always offers help but then "cuts out" before the church part of the gathering. There he was huddled over a large pan of steaming bacon and cauldron of scrambled eggs. His daughter Brittany was helping with the tables, along with Rose.
An assembly of men, some churched, some not, enjoyed a pleasant and delicious meal, happily set apart from the grind of day-to-day living. Talk was animated. Smiles were in large supply.
As soon as the tables were cleared and young Doug was beginning a time of worship at the keyboard, almost half of the room got up, gave their thanks and good wishes, and departed.
Oh so it was just the meal, I thought, with my little contribution not even begun. This was the thing that had irked me in the past about the gathering. No apparent discipline. People coming and leaving, jostling, whispering, popping out for a smoke.
I proceeded to speak and was well received by the remaining men. When concluded I felt ashamed of my testiness. Church had been going on through the entire morning. Posters and art of a Gospel nature adorning the walls. Men elbow-to-elbow enjoying good food and hearing each other out indiscriminately. Handicaps and social inequalities forgotten. Smiles, naming of names, good will extended to those men, otherwise invisible, who bolted from the worship service. And the aroma of Christ...
Mark and Rose, I have misunderstood your ministry. I respect this special grace.
(See the previous post entitled Phil and Painful Speech from March of 2010)