Lots of people have had close calls - and lived to tell about it.
Today I was speaking to a group of 40 men of faith who have gathered together as a group every Friday in early morning to tell their stories of life to each other. To encourage each other. Often to tell very intimate things that have been life-changing events in their personal history.
And this day they had invited me to tell mine. To tell perhaps the little-known things in my life, that were turning-points, life-changers.
Long ago, for some years, I had been their pastor. Two and a half decades have passed since I was in that role with them. I had gone on to work in Africa, to try to bring about reconciliation after the 1994 genocide between the ruling Hutus and the Tutsis, their targets. It had been something awful. One million people brutally killed in four months time. And, not just by police, or soldiers, but by neighbors - friends - with whom they had grown up.
Rwanda was a traumatized country. No-one knew how to fix it. Only prayer seemed to offer any hope, and the reminders of Jesus' love - the reason why He had come.
We worked at it slowly. But determinedly. And, it worked. Jesus always came. And, by love - His everlasting love - He healed.
There are so many stories, which we love to tell. Of how the great change was wrought.
And this early morning, I was able to tell a few of these, to help them look back to their own incidents and issues, and see that in their encounters, almost always the hand of God was present. Time and time again, Jesus had come to them, and offered Himself and changed their lives.
One man was eager to tell of a time, years ago, when he and I had prayed, about his addiction. Jesus came then, and healed him that day. And following that, God gave him a wonderful, growing ministry conducting "interventions" that have in turn led over and over, to healing and freeing and restoration in the lives of men and women all over the state.
I had told some Molly stories, and one man said, "We all need to thank God for our Mollys."
There was affirmation all around. Though I had hesitated to go, it was a chance for continuing and deepening reconciliation with these men. I found they loved me, and believed me. I came away uplifted by a great and brotherly affirmation.
These things always go both ways. We love and affirm each other. And we find healing in our lives. And they find healing in theirs.
We need - all of us - to be about the loving work, because it is the healing work, and uniting work. The way great mending takes place and the restoration that every family, community, church - and yes, country, needs.
Let's all work at doing it - for the healing of the nation, and the bringing of the peace that this land we love, craves.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES