What three churches taught me about loving in times of need
April 15, 2004
My mother is a Christian. My father was not. Because of my parents’ situation, I feel sympathy for the women that come to church without their husbands. I also understand one of the reasons that these women attend church even though their actions sometimes have an adverse effect on their relationship with their husband.
My mother’s example of being a committed Christian in the face of difficulties has encouraged me to be a disciple of Christ. In my Christian walk, there have been three churches that have had a direct impact on my faith and my relationship with God.
First it was the Federal Way Church of Christ in Washington State. Because of my family turmoil the church was an example of a family that could work together with a common purpose and goal. The church filled a gap in the life of a discouraged teenager.
The second church is in Fresno, Calif. I followed a job opportunity to Fresno in the face of an imminent layoff. I arrived in September of 1982 and started attending the College Church of Christ on Bullard Avenue. Then the unthinkable happened. One early Sunday morning in December, four of us college-age students started driving to Morro Bay with the intent of worshiping at the coast. We never arrived. Near Riverdale on Highway 41, the driver fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line and hit a semi truck head on in the fog. Melinda died instantly; Steve died of shock a short time later. Sandy spent three months in intensive care at the local medical center. I woke up next to the car with a green-stick fracture in my left leg and a fracture in my right shoulder. After six days in the hospital, I went to stay with my parents in Federal Way.
Returning to Fresno to be received by a group of people I had only known for three months was a big question mark. But I need not have worried. As I got off the airplane, the college-age group of about 20 people met me. My heartfelt thanks go out to Doug, Lee and Rusty for their support in a very difficult time.
The third church is the Metro Church of Christ in Gresham, Ore., where we have been since 1990. 1994 turned out to be a difficult year when my father-in-law died of cancer and our fourth son, Matthew was born with a genetic disorder that took his life at the age of nine months in June of 1995. It was rare genetic disorder called Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa where the skin does not connect and blisters are created by heat and friction. Our health insurance covered the morphine but not the ancillary medical supplies required to keep Matthew free from infection. The Metro church stepped in with wonderful support.
Prior to Matthew’s premature birth, my wife was on complete bed rest for six weeks. The women of Metro stepped in by caring for our other sons who were 7, 5 and 2 years old at the time. They also did laundry and cooking during the day and allowed me those responsibilities when I came home from work in the evening. One of the biggest blessings was the fact that Metro gave of their means so that we could pay for the ancillary medical supplies. They mourned with us when Matthew died but also rejoiced with us when we brought Rebekah into our family through adoption three years later. But that is another story. I will be forever grateful to the Metro Church for its love and support.
Here is the result of the three churches. Because of these churches, I have seen 1) What a family should be about; 2) The desire of a family to reach out; and 3) the support of family in a time of great need.
I know that I am not the only person to have family troubles or suffer personal tragedy. But In each case the church was there in my time of need. I would encourage you to recognize the power that you and your church have to impact the lives of those hurting. God Bless.
Glen Aus lives in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at [email protected].