You may have heard the saying, “hard times don’t build character—they reveal it.” That saying was much on my mind this week as you, the body of Christ at Ball Camp, walked with the Lethgo family during their time of grief and loss. There are few times in our lives more difficult than when we face the loss of a loved one. Watching you be the presence of Christ to a family facing just such a loss was truly a blessing.
Your ministry to them to them was a wonderful answer to the question of what the church is and what the purpose of Ball Camp Baptist Church is. The news came to us Sunday morning and we started to pray for this family. Someone was already talking with the family helping to answer questions and make arrangements. The sanctuary was made available for the funeral service as it always is when a member or friend goes to be with the Lord. The choir loft was full for the service and there was room there for friends and family who wanted to join in the singing. Every time I hear our choir sing How Great thou Art at a funeral service, I grow more confident in the promise of heaven. More than that, I long for it more when I hear them sing. Somehow it just seems closer when they proclaim it with such power and beauty. Dr. Leonard Markham’s willingness to return to Ball Camp to preach Gibby Lethgo’s funeral is testimony to the reality that once you have been a part of Ball Camp, experienced the working of God in this place and with our people, it stays with you even when life moves you to other places. Many of you were here during the receiving of friends and for the service, and by your presence you reminded this family of the promise and presence of Christ. Of course, on the day of his burial you continued to speak love and support to this grieving family by graciously and wonderfully feeding them when they were hungry. So like Christ to meet such an everyday, ordinary need in the midst of difficult times.
For many different reasons, we do not always have the opportunity to minister in so many ways to a family suffering the loss of a loved one. This week, you did and it was a beautiful sight to behold. No definitions, no explanations, and no words could provide a better understanding of what the church is supposed to be than seeing you and what you have offered to, and been for, this family as they have walked through the cold, dark valley of the shadow of death. You have been rod and staff to them.
As people of God, saved by God’s grace and made a part of the family of God by God’s unconditional love, we are able to be in constant conversation with that loving and gracious God. That love and grace shapes our living so that we proclaim with word and deed the truth of it. Today as we pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” we are reminded that we do not face our trials alone. God has brought us together: “Lead us not,” “deliver us.” By God’s grace, what we face, we face together and as we do that we see clearly the substance and depth of Christian community.
More than that, we bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. Jesus told his disciples that he would never leave them nor forsake them, but that he would be with them until the end of the age. When followers of Christ act and minister in the ways that you have this past week these words of scripture come to life before our very eyes. They take on flesh and bone as you seek to be the presence of Christ to one another.
Thank you for your faithfulness to the teachings of scriptures and to the commands of Christ.