|Rev. Meridith Whitaker, missionary, cares for children and families at the Canterbury Chapel United Methodist Church. Photo by Rachael Barnett.|
As a part on the ministry in Eastern Oklahoma, I pastor a small 12-step church for people in recovery from drugs and alcohol. We always have a time in the service for what we call praises and concerns.
Sometime back, there were two young children who would walk to church every Sunday and every Sunday when I would ask for praises and concerns, the girl would raise her hand and ask us to pray for her daddy. He was in jail and she wanted him to come home.
Now, I knew her daddy. He was serving a life sentence for killing a man...he wasn't coming home, but every Sunday we would pray that her daddy would get out of jail and come home. One Sunday I was standing in the pulpit writing down some things I wanted to remember during the service when those two small children came in the door, escorted by their daddy. They sat on the right side of the church in the back.
I kept my eye on him since I wasn't sure how he had gotten out of jail. As the worship began, tears rolled down the man's face.
At the end of the service he came up to me and said, "I need to talk to you Rev. Meri." I said okay and we stepped off to the side.
He said, "I got out of prison two weeks ago on a technicality. I came home and my wife didn't want me anymore. My friends don't want me around. I have been trying to get a job so that I can support my kids but nobody will have me. This morning I got up and I got down on my knees and I told God I just couldn't take it anymore. I was either going to go to church or I was going to kill myself.
“I decided that I would come to church with my kids and if that didn't work, I had the rest of the day to kill myself. I asked God to give me a little bit of faith...just a little bit of faith.
“When I walked in the door -- see that little girl over there?” He pointed to one of our little four-year-olds.
"Yes," I said.
“Well, she walked up to me, stuck her little hand out and said, ‘I'm really glad you’re here. But you look sad! I want to give you a present.’
"I want to show you what that little girl gave me," the father said. He held out his hand and slowly opened it and there in his hand was a little gold necklace with the word FAITH on it.
I believe that this is what United Methodist missionaries are sent to do. We are sent to give people just a little bit of faith. We are on the field because you, as United Methodists, have been faithful to give financially to keep us doing what God has called us to do.
I can't let this day go without saying thank you! Thank you for giving so that I could be a part of God's work. If your church would like to be in a special relationship with me, one that gives you a personal touch with the ministry and mission where I serve, the United Methodist Church has a program called Covenant Relationships that enables you to be a part.
To learn how your church can covenant with missionary Rev. Meridith Whitaker or any other of the hundreds of United Methodist missionaries, link to: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/advance/missionaries/covenant/?i=18356
For a brief biography of Rev. Whitaker, a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, link to: http://new.gbgm-umc.org/work/missionaries/biographies/index.cfm?action=results&key=2&criteria=Whitaker&Submit=Go