by Tom VanWingerden, Executive Director of Friendship Ministries
I know I’ve been writing a lot lately about my friends in our church’s Friendship group, but I am compelled to tell you at least one more story about a very dear friend of mine, Jack.
I’ve known Jack for almost 20 years now as he has been participating in church at least twice a week on Tuesday night Friendship and Sunday church. Jack rarely misses an opportunity to join in on most of our social activities at church, ranging from baseball games to picnics, potlucks, concerts, and more. Jack loves to be connected, to participate and to engage with his church family.
Jack is very intentional in his relationships, not just by observing or receiving, but actively participating and giving. While Jack has some challenges, he has truly learned to use his gifts of hospitality and love.
Even though my own kids have been out of the house and have joined other churches with their own families, Jack will still ask about each of them, their spouses, and their children by name. Jack has never forgotten my birthday, nor has he ever failed to give me a card at Christmas, Easter, and other holidays. Many others have told me that their relationship with Jack is much the same and how diligent he is in fostering his relationships with them, their children, and their grandchildren. Jack has used his gifts to bless those around him by creating a sense of family, belonging, and love.
When I think about our church communities, about Friendship Ministries, and of course about our relationships with others, I am blessed to learn from Jack about the
importance of ensuring that everyone is welcomed, loved, accepted and celebrated — in God’s eyes, in Jack’s eyes, and hopefully in our own eyes as well.
May we see clearly God’s purpose and design in each of us as we seek ways to belong, together, in His Kingdom.