A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a friend who is a part of a local branch of a connecting ministry that links people in need with churches who are willing to meet those needs. She told me that an unemployed woman named Jenny* had contacted the ministry’s local office in search of financial and food help. Jenny’s boyfriend was in jail on domestic abuse charges, and she had nowhere else to turn. The ministry got involved in putting together emergency rent help, providing her with emergency food assistance and resources to assist her in her job search.
Jenny told the ministry’s intake worker that what was particularly painful about her current crisis was the fact that her disabled son was about to have an important birthday, and she didn’t have anyone in her life with whom to put together a party for him. She had no family, and had been gradually isolated from outside friendships. When asked if the ministry could put together a little party for her son, Jenny tearfully said yes.
A small group of us showed up at her home on a warm September afternoon. Two people, along with a carful of happy kids, came from one local church, and a couple of others came because we’d heard about the need through the ministry. One woman brought a cake that she made that was as almost as beautiful as a Cake Boss creation. Others brought balloons, ice cream, gifts and cards. The group of us, save for the pair that came from the same church, didn’t know one another before we walked in Jenny’s door. But we were only strangers until we sang “Happy Birthday” to Jenny’s son and ate cake and ice cream together before dinner. If ever there was a day to eat dessert first, this was it.
We talked, and the pastor gently asked Jenny to tell us a bit about her story. She told us about her once-hopeful faith and the complex pile-on of events that brought her to this place in her life. When asked if she would like the group to pray for her, she agreed. We gathered around her and prayed for God’s provision, for strength and healing so she could begin to move forward in her life, and for His blessing on the fragile life of her beloved child.
After the final “amen”, her son piped up. “Hey, my mom didn’t pray yet.”We all bowed our heads again, and quietly affirmed both her tears and her words. It was a heaping slice of the kingdom of heaven, and had all the earmarks of a turning point for this mother and son.
It was far and away the best party I’ve ever attended. No contest.
*Name has been changed