Sometime back, I told the story of Jacob, a young boy who wonders the streets of our small town. I asked you to pray that I and my husband might have more opportunities to serve this lonely child. God has been faithful to answer that prayer!
For several weeks, we didn’t see him. Then, one Sunday as we trekked across the church parking lot, Jacob intersected us, head down, kicking a stone in front of him. We invited him to come in for church and he informed us he wasn’t allowed to go to church any more. “Why not?” I asked. His mom wouldn’t let him, he didn’t want to talk about it. He scrubbed his eyes.
I couldn’t let this go. I knew I didn’t know the whole story but I still needed to reach out to him. I told him he needed to respect his mother, but approach her again and tell her he really would like to go to church. I asked if he had a Bible. No he didn’t. Could I get him one?
“If you want to.” He scrubbed his eyes again. I can tell you, my mind wasn’t much on happy praises of God that morning.
We got him a Bible and soon he started coming regularly to our kids’ program and our Wednesday night meal. My husband gave him rides home when the weather was bad and he started showing up at our house more. Once, on a cold afternoon, we caught him riding his bike wearing nothing more than long shorts and a tshirt. He explained he didn’t own any long pants.
Yesterday he stopped by to ask my husband to fix his bike. I opened the door and before the boy could talk, I fussed at him. “Jacob! What are you doing? Sleeveless tshirt? Now I can understand the shorts thing but I know you have other shirts you can wear.” As he hung his head, I said, “I sound like a mom, don’t I?”
“Yeah, you do,” he grinned. It hit me. How would he know what a mom sounds like? Knowing his home situation, he had probably never had a mom fuss over him like that.
Soon he and Jack sat cross-legged fixing his bike. Jacob confided to Jack that he was moving to another town – moving again. Realizing we had nothing to lose and everything to gain, we pulled out all the stops. We encouraged him to find a church, make good friends, be a Jesus’ example to his mom, and keep reading his Bible. As he mounted his bike, I said, “Oh wait a minute, you forgot your backpack.”
As he retrieved it, I said, “There I go, sounding like a mom again.”
His reply brought tears to my eyes.
“You can be my church mom.”
Goodness, I wanted to grab that little boy and hug the stuffing out of him. I wanted to clear out our south bedroom and love him the way sons ought to be loved.
The years rolled back and I thought of the time I heard similar words from the elder in my home church who took me under wing. In another blog, I shared how Gene became my self-proclaimed church-dad and how he did and said the things dads should with their daughters. And now, I was being bestowed with the same title, given the privilege to pay grace forward.
Please keep praying for Jacob. Pray that perhaps his parent will decide to stay here after all, that we might be able to connect with him in his new locale, that God will keep him safe in all ways, and that he hold on to the words my husband told him last thing, “Jacob I know God has a wonderful plan for you.”
I wonder what Gene would think if he knew he had a church grandson.