Continuing my series of photo blogs on houses of worship, I share a photo that is one of my most recent, but one of my favorites. Providence Baptist Church is an historic congregation that dates back to 1818, yet this church in rural Forrest County, north of the city of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has a worship center that blends the classic and contemporary. On the classic side, there is the red brick and columns in front, with a white steeple. But the high pitch of the roof in front that juts forward, and the columns rising to meet it, give just the right contemporary touch. Add to that the curb appeal of a country church standing proudly on a hill, and this church building is an amazing eye-catcher.
Sometimes a pastor feels awkward when he is called upon to visit somebody he does not know in the hospital, but it is really embarrassing when he visits somebody that he does know but he does not recognize! That happened to me recently. Let me explain– and I will change the names to protect the innocent.
Our church office received a request to visit Pearly Precious (obviously not her real name!), who was having knee surgery. It was the hospital visitation day of our associate pastor, so he went to make the visit, but the family had left and Pearly was in surgery, so he left his card and departed. I called later and got Pearly’s room and talked to her daughter, who thanked me for calling, and told me she was recovering well from the knee surgery. A couple days later, I was in town, so I went to the hospital to visit.
I knocked on the door, which had her last name, “Precious,” on the door, but when I entered the room, I did not recognize the patient! Confused, I introduced myself, and started to excuse myself, when the daughter said that she remembered talking to me on the phone and thanked me for coming. I looked at Mrs. Pearly, and said, “Sorry I didn’t recognize you at first– your hair is shorter.” After a long pause, the daughter said, “Now tell me, what connection does our family have to your church?”
I said, “Uh, I came to visit Pearly Precious.”
They said, “This is Pearly Precious.”
I said, “I have a Pearly Precious who is a member of First Baptist Church in Rincon.”
They said, “She’s a member of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baxley.”
That’s when we realized the mix-up. There were two women with the same name! So I just went ahead and prayed with the other Pearly and left to call the house of my Pearly. She answered the phone, and I asked how she was doing. She said, “Just fine.” When I told he what happened, she said, “I haven’t been in the hospital in years. But that explains why somebody called and asked about my surgery!”
Psalm 138:8 (HCSB) says, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” If I was a pagan, I would think my perchance visit was purposeless. But the Precious family from Baxley was pleased to have a pastor pray with them, and the Precious family from Rincon was proud that their Pearly felt just peachy. Yes, God has a plan and a purpose for all people, even pastors and patients who don’t plan to pray together. What plan do you perceive He has for you?
(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers.)