This has to be one of my favorite life stories of all times.
My girlfriend and I had gone down to Charlotte, North Carolina living out a bucket list trip. One of the things we wanted to do was visit a Black church – now I am not sure what the politically correct term is now-a-days, African American church, church of color or ???? But what we wanted was a church where we, the white folks, would be a minority.
*side note: I googled and both Black and African American are politically correct*
We did not really know how to find one so we looked in the phone book. We had missed Sunday morning services because of a hotel door malfunction so we were looking for an evening service. We saw a picture with a pastor’s picture and it said they had a Sunday evening service so we took a chance. We hopped into a taxi and away we went.
When we got to the church our black taxi driver looked at the church and then looked back and us and then back at the church and he said, “I am not leaving you here.”
I replied, “Pardon me?”
“I am not leaving you here,” was his firm reply.
So I said, “Just a minute,” and I opened the door of the cab and asked the well-dressed black man on the sidewalk, “Excuse me, but would we be welcome at your church?”
This man looked very intelligent, I believe he knew what I was asking and he said, “Yes ma’am, you would be very welcome here.”
So I looked back at the cab driver, “I think we will be just fine,” and we proceeded to get out of the cab.
The cab driver took down his business card off the sun visor above his head and handed it back to us.
“If you need me, just call that number and I will be right here,” he told us.
Thanking him for his great service we climbed out and proceeded to go into the church. I have to admit that the taxi driver’s warnings did give me a few butterflies but I pushed those aside and off we went.
We noticed right away that all the people were dressed up, we were in dress pants and shirts but all the ladies were wearing dresses and the men suits.
We felt a little dowdy, so we went into the bathroom to freshen up and my girlfriend
gave me a hissed whisper, “we seem to be the only white people here!”
To which I replied, “I know, isn’t it great!”
Upon leaving the bathroom we went into the hallway and met some people – they were very gracious and asked where we were from and warmly welcomed us. They apologized that the Sunday evening service was not a “regular” service but that the youth would be running the service. That was fine by us since we both had teenagers back home and in we went to the sanctuary.
The service was everything we had hoped it would be. There were “Hallellujah’s”, “Praise Jesus” and hands and voices going up all over the place exactly like you would imagine it to be. At the end of the youth’s message an Elder got up and asked that all the church youth would please come to the front and that the adults would gather around them and lay hands on them to pray.
When they started to pray we were humbled, they prayed for their kids for protection against hunger, against violence, against gangs, knives, guns, protection from racism. These are not the prayers I hear in my church, they are not the prayers I have ever had to pray for my children.
After the youth service, a lady got up and gave a message that has stayed with me to this day. She had no work and had lost everything for the past 2 years. She actually slept in her car because she had lost her home and had no money. She told us that sometimes satan would like to sneak in and steal her joy over her circumstances but she had decided not to let him. When he would try to get her down she said she always found a reason to dance, she said there was always a reason to dance, sometimes you just had to look for it. She started to dance in joy up there on the platform and then the church started to join her. Soon the entire church (save us) was dancing and hopping and the joy and spirit of God in that room was unreal. The church literally came to life – except those 2 white girls who stood swaying because they did could not dance like that. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
I would have been happy just to leave at this point and bask in the experience but the best was still yet to come…. (read next weeks blog for Part 2).