our first real test

Bristol, CT

We went into the weekend knowing that we were running out of supplies for the first time. But Sundays are usually interesting, since we meet many people in church on those days, so we weren't sure what to expect. The church we ended up at was a large one (and rapidly getting bigger). Many of the songs were familiar, which was a comfort for me. But the preaching sounded mostly like positive-thinking, self-help advice—very popular these days, which may be why the church is doing so well. I had also noticed that they had installed a full-service coffee shop in the lobby. My spirits were sinking.

Then we went to a discussion afterwards, and it turned out to be a commentary on end times prophecy and current events in the middle east. Not a subject I'm much interested in. But I perked up at the end, when the teacher mentioned that the U.S. would also be part of the "beast's system" and we would have to choose who to give our allegiance to (God or country). Not something we expected to hear in a church with American flags posted everywhere.

We chatted with Steve, the teacher, a bit after the class, and then Heather asked about the showers she had seen in the bathrooms. So Steve took us to meet an assistant pastor who we talked with at length, including respectfully sharing my opinion of the sermon (and then he offered us a complimentary iced caramel latte!). During this discussion, Steve decided we're an interesting couple and invited us out for a burger, and we talked for a long time about his struggles at the church. (He didn't much like the sermon, either, or the direction the church was going.) He came away feeling excited and encouraged about his role there, though not very optimistic about how they would respond. The momentum of a successful, wealthy church is hard to question or resist.

After returning to the church for a shower, we left feeling good about our visit. And clean and well-fed. But we knew we might have to start fasting the next day. I was impressed about how calm Heather seemed about it.

It rained as we walked through the city of Hartford, and we hadn't had dinner (there wasn't much left anyway) when we approached a church to find shelter for the night. But there were two men in the parking lot. One was the pastor. We briefly explained our walk and asked to sleep outside his church; then he asked for a reference, so we had him call Louise Stahnke at Plow Creek. After talking with her (and then his wife), he invited us to his home. And offered us dinner!

And then his wife brought out warm, homemade, blueberry pie.

Nick and Angela Davis were wonderful hosts. Truly a godsend. It was the first real test of our faith on this walk, a difficult one, and God answered us so richly through Nick and Angela. We had a good talk this morning over breakfast. And then they surprised us by offering a generous gift of money, too. We were so relieved and grateful. I left a thank-you note behind, reminding them of Jesus' words, "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me... as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Mt 25.35)