Monday, October 07, 2013

The Week That Was

It looks like a busy week ahead. The schedule includes the regular blogging duties, quite a bit of correspondence, working on shifting our website to a new format, hosting friends for dinner, the usual morning meetings at Panera's, getting our chimney swept, tending to the lawn, stuffing envelopes and mailing out the LifeSharer letter, and 6 presentations of "When Swing Was King."

So you can see why we don't have too much time to reflect on last week's activities. But, because it was such an interesting and productive week (and because I promised my Facebook friends that I would), I'll risk a little reflection anyway.

Certainly a highlight of the week was our trip down to Harrisonville, Missouri (about 35 miles southeast of Kansas City) where I was to give an address at the annual fundraising banquet for Life Choice Center for Women, a Christ-centered pregnancy aid service that serves the people of several counties.

We rented a car at the airport on Wednesday night and started out early the next morning. We had a steady rain from the moment we left Omaha but nothing we considered very dangerous so our prayers and conversation centered on the fundraising banquet that night and not on the storm. But that changed in Kansas City. We suddenly hit several squalls of hard-driving rain that made made both visibility and vehicle control problematic. But the worst was over in 20 minutes or so and, by the time we made it to Harrisonville, we actually had clear skies and sunlight.

We had arranged to meet the Life Choice Center director at a restaurant just off the highway and we were there with time to spare. And our luncheon was enhanced greatly when not only Linda showed up but 6 others who are deeply involved with the ministry there. We had a wonderful time learning about the Center's history and operating procedures, the Christian convictions that were hallmarks of its operations, and the expectations of the staff and governing board for the banquet. On several levels, we were impressed and we left the luncheon with the opinion we had already made some new friends.

That belief was solidified in the tour Linda gave us of the Center's facility. The ministry operates out of an old building not far from the city square. It's in a house that was long ago converted into a business with all kinds of alterations and additions made along the way. But the Center has done a remarkable job of restoring, fixing, beautifying, keeping clean, and utilizing it.

Every one of its many rooms were attractive, organized, and well-equipped for the various tasks the Center performs. And they do a lot: free pregnancy tests, counseling, ultrasound views, parenting classes, physical assistance to moms and families, health screening, education, referrals, children's clothing, Bible studies, friendship, networking, prayer teams, website outreach, and more.

Claire and I were really touched by the abundant evidence of many years of excellent work for the cause of Christ that has been accomplished in this place.

Then there was the banquet that night.. I had listened closely and taken notes throughout the afternoon and so I was able to weave into my talk a lot of illustrations, stories, applications and needs from the Center's work itself. I first gave a review of our pro-life work over the last 30 plus years which, as you know, has involved almost every area of the pro-life movement, I did so in order to put into context this statement, "The pregnancy aid center is the crown of the pro-life movement. Indeed, the Christ-centered pregnancy aid center is one of the most important and beautiful crowns of the Church in our day."

It was then in the argument defending that statement in which I used the specifics I had learned about the Life Choice Center for Women that afternoon and, even earlier in the banquet, as I listened to the moving testimonies given by three of the Center's recent clients. Along the way, I was pitching for the community's generous support of the Life Choice Center as well as doing some cheerleading for the staff, volunteers and supporters that had already accomplished so much.

The talk was well-received and it stimulated some very nice, very encouraging conversations with folks afterward. And we learned later that the Center had surpassed its fundraising goals for the evening. Thank You, Lord. And thank you to all who prayed for our safe travel and for the success of the event.

On the way home the next day, we stopped briefly in Liberty, Missouri to visit with a long time friend and pro-life colleague, Harvey Gilbert. Then on Saturday we joined friends for prayers outside the Planned Parenthood abortion mill here in northwest Omaha, caught up with the Maleks a little about their trip to Italy, visited a World War II combat vet who had been hospitalized, and completed work on Sunday's sermon.

But the church service the next morning ended up taking a different turn. We had learned earlier in the week that dears friends from our past, Dan and Charlene Butler, were in town from Arizona and would be stopping in at church. I had planned to introduce them before the sermon and even talk a little about how our friendship back in the early 70s was an illustration of things I had spoken of last Sunday in examining I Samuel 18 and Jonathan's desire to have David as a friend.

However, on the drive downtown, I decided to postpone the sermon I had in my folder and instead opt for a non-traditional program for that morning, one which used an interview format for Dan and I (and eventually Claire) to have a wide-ranging conversation. Among the topics we explored were conversion, finding the will of God, the power of spiritual friendships, the crucial importance of godly parenting, Christianity that goes beyond the church building, Bible study, and more. It was engaging, extremely interesting, and different enough to really draw the congregation's attention and there was quite a buzz of appreciative comments afterward. That was really neat.

The day wasn't over yet though. There was lunch with the Butlers and other friends at Jason's Deli after church. Then a cold, rainy hour standing at the corner of 72nd and Dodge for this year's Life Chain.  And then home for a hot cup of tea, a look in to the Bronco game...and getting ready for the whirl coming around this next week.

Oh yes, one other thing we're getting ready for -- a long overdue vacation!