by Pat Northcutt, Life Group leader

MC Midweek June 7, 2023

We had moved out of state for my husband's postgraduate study and quickly adapted to "new" everything. New housing, new friends, new church, new job, doctors, barbers, grocery stores, gas stations, weather patterns. New TV stations, radio stations, and rhythm of a rural culture where schools delayed fall opening until the tobacco crop was harvested.

The church we joined had a rich heritage in the area but a small congregation. We were warmly welcomed, and developed close friendships with a few of the families. The acceptance from the women was a special gift to me: with a toddler and another baby on the way, I needed support that women know how to give one another.

One Sunday a lady gave me a carton of brown eggs, said they were from Willie's chickens. I thanked her and Willie, but was surprised at the gift. Willie was old. Willie had some sort of palsy that kept his right arm dangling and his hand shaking. Sometimes he spit a little when he talked. I just didn't feel comfortable around Willie.

For Mother's Day that year, the men filled the choir loft and sang to honor the ladies in the congregation. Then a few of them spoke....and Willie was one of the speakers. Shaking and struggling for his words he told of being in Europe for World War I, and the comfort he felt from thinking of home. Of his mother. He said that his strongest memories were of her on her knees at bedtime, praying. I may have imagined it---but I think tears were rolling down his face. I know I was crying.

I learned that Willie had been gassed in the trenches in World War I, had survived and returned home where he continued to serve that little church with eggs, chickens, crops, song and faithfulness. When I first met him I looked through him. After that Sunday of his testimony, I saw his heart....and I loved him. I had to learn to "see".

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” James 2: 1-5