Easter Always Brings Stories of Hope
With the world as fractured as it is politically and so many other ways, the preparations for Easter on Apr. 4 may seem like an exercise in futility. At least, when it comes to sharing stories of hope.
However, in the midst of great upheaval always come stories of God’s grace. They are the kind we can celebrate as we observe the occasion of a risen Savior.
I encountered such a reality recently while working on an assignment about a small church whose heating oil tank ruptured last year and ran out the door and across the highway next to the building.
If that weren’t bad enough, this happened on the first Sunday congregations were unable to meet in person because of pandemic-linked lockdowns.
After calling a hazmat company to siphon up the oil, the church learned that it had to pay the nearly $20,000 bill. In addition, it faced thousands in building repair costs.
A few weeks after the spill, more bad news surfaced. The church’s insurance company said it wouldn’t cover the clean-up costs. Appeals for help from other agencies in the following months also failed.
A year later, the congregation of about two dozen recently paid off the hazmat bill, thanks to a spate of recent donations from other churches. The final step came via an unexpected discount from the company.
Some of the early gifts came via the generosity of members—or strangers who showed up at the pastor’s home, saying, “The Lord laid it on my heart to give to you.”
“The members buckled down, paid their tithes, and gave extra money to the offering,” the pastor says. “We didn’t buy supplies or anything frivolous.”
They did all this despite being unable to conduct its customary fund raisers: a peanut butter egg event in the spring and a pumpkin roll sale in the fall.
Some would ask why bother repairing the damage for such a small church. But the female pastor credits God with helping her stick in there despite her discouragement. It deepened when her mother died two months after the disaster.
“Many, many times I’ve fasted and prayed and said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’” she says. “And I get the feeling those 25 people are as important as if I had 250.”
Another fascinating element of this anecdote, which I didn’t have space to relate in the story for publication, concerned the pastor’s testimony.
Although she grew up in church, she had gradually faded away. Then came the turn of the century, which you may remember sparked fears of a Y2K disaster.
As she contemplated the possibility of disaster while cradling her six-month-old daughter, the disaffected woman realized if she didn’t make a decision to follow Jesus, she could ultimately lose both of her children.
So, she told her husband she had to go back to church. After a few Sundays, she dedicated her life to Christ on her birthday: Jan. 16 of 2000.
“I immediately felt a burning desire to work with youth and was the youth director for seven years,” she recalls, “before filling in for my former pastor, who had to miss some of her duties because her husband had cancer. I just knew that my ‘show and tell’ and hands-on perspective could help adults too.”
Some of the best stories are those that occur in quiet ways and unknown places. The best thing is God knows each of these stories of hope. He sent His Son to die for us so that they could be told.