Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wow


I expected the summertime to be slow and interesting things to write about would be scarce.  But today I find that I have so many subjects that I’m having to prioritize.  So today’s blog has to go first because it has a timed event that you need to know about.  Next week I’ll write about what I saw last week.  And in two weeks I’ll write about what happened tonight.  Confused?  Just come back for the next two or three weeks because I’ll have new things to say that you won’t want to miss.

I’ve written before about Community Breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church in Garland.  It’s simple:

Make a sign.  Buy a bunch of breakfast stuff.  Cook scrambled eggs, sausage and pancakes.  Get some coffee, milk or orange juice.  Open the doors.  


You gotta be careful what you pray for-- any ministry done in Christ’s name will succeed beyond your imagination.  They average 150 folks at breakfast now.


Let me brag about these folks who have embraced this ministry.  They’re humble but jolly folks who have a clear sense of what Matther 25 tells us:  “Feed My sheep.”  They don’t make a big deal out of it.  They don’t take it so seriously that it stops being fun.  They just do it.

It’s a multi-generational ministry with middle school kids working alongside octogenarians, sharing a conversation while washing dishes or frying sausage. Because our congregation has two worship services sometimes it’s the only chance they get to see each other.  They’ve built a little community of faith out of the people who work in the kitchen. It’s a family of sorts. 

Likewise, everyone who comes through the doors is treated as a revered family member, as though they were royalty purchasing the finest meal available.
 
So, here's where the story gets interesting:  Monday morning the church office received the following email: 

To Whom It May Concern,


Words escape me to express my gratitude for being able to experience what I experienced this morning. I was on my way back from Rowlett Creek and saw a sign that read "free community breakfast." I pulled over and decided to see why these meals were offered. As I walked in, I was welcomed by smiling men and women and a young man asked me what I would like to drink. Another young man served me food and I can tell he wasn't faking his humble attitude. I watched as your staff served people from all walks of life. They didn't judge or question who they were serving; they just served everyone with joy and love. Some of those served were homeless, rude or tattooed, yet again, your staff continued to show love and respect and treated us like dignified human beings. I couldn't help but to break in tears for what I saw.
I was born and raised in Baghdad when Dictator Saddam Hussein was in power. My family and I starved and my neighbors ate egg shells from garbage cans to survive. Seeing your staff dedicating their weekend to feed others was a riveting assurance that humanity is functioning and that this world is still in a good shape. As we speak, there are millions of starving kids who are being hacked and shot to death by their own people, instead of being fed. Your staff today has changed the way I see things in life.  
A few Muslims consider Christians to be the infidel ones, but what I saw today was the exact opposite. If anything, your staff members are the true depiction of what a human should be to another. I've read your Bible and been to many churches, but I've never seen such welcoming people like your staff members. What I saw today, was the true translation of what your Holy Book advises people to do.
Thank you for what you are and please continue to do what you do. You would be surprised whose life you are going to touch. 
Sincerely, 
Munir Captain
Public Speaker
Former U.S Armed Forces Interpreter


A flurry of emails between the breakfast folk followed:

That is wild,

 I remember when Mrs. Clark told me to keep an eye on a gentleman had been sobbing at one of the breakfast tables.  I looked and saw a young man that looked middle eastern.

After seeing this email you sent, I looked up his name on the internet and found a few links with info about Munir Captain and a picture.    I believe this is the same guy I saw at the breakfast. 




Bob

Then somebody found out he will be speaking in Dallas on July 11th

     Join the Dallas Holocaust Museum on July 11 as Iraqi war translator Munir Captain shares his stories of despair, freedom and hope.
     From 2003 to 2009, Munir Captain and his brother, Omar, served as translators to U.S. forces in their native Iraq.
     New residents of North Texas, these brave men still have family in Baghdad, so their personal stories are not only current but relevant as family members in Iraq have faced reprisals for the brothers’ decisions to support American forces and their decision to live as refugees in the U.S.
     The brothers bring interesting perspectives on the importance of the regime change in Iraq, the nature of the long insurgency there, the character of the American soldiers, the prospects for Iraq going forward and their own assimilation into American life.
     Hear Murnir Captain speak at the Museum theater, 211 N. Record Street Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

Finally, Louis added a few words acknowledging what a mixed bag of people they get at breakfast.  Mostly, they’re just ordinary people like the Martinez family who all work but still don’t have a lot of money, for whom a free breakfast can mean whether or not the electric bill gets paid on time.  Then there are the homeless and/or mentally ill.  And how are you supposed to tell the difference?  It’s not like they wear a name tag that says, “I’m dangerous.”  So when you see a Middle-Eastern guy sobbing at a table it really causes your antennae to go up. We’ve never had any kind of dangerous situation at breakfast but you gotta wonder when, not if, it will happen.

Jesus didn’t mention this in Matthew 25.  So we just wing it and trust everything will be OK. "Death by Analysis" is the worst possible tactic a Christian can adopt when considering a new idea.

I wanted to get this word out to you because you might want to go hear what this guy has to say.   I can’t go because I’ll be at a meeting of another ministry that I’ll talk about in a couple of weeks.

The bottom line is: This really happened.  

We spend a lot of time looking for the Kingdom of God and it turns out sometimes it’s right in front of your nose.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Jane, this made ME tear up. We are talking about the Holy Spirit and the new PCUSA evangelism program called, Engage, at Briarwood. THIS is the perfect example of how this program is promoting evangelism.

May I use this in a sermon late July? Thank you for sharing.