THE VISITOR by Robert Simmons

I have been involved in church ministry for most of my adult life; however it hasn’t been until the past few years that my mind has turned to what those outside the church experience. Recently I visited a church and as I was there observing the people my mind once again turned to what if someone hurting, looking for help and not comfortable with “church life” were there? I looked through that person’s eyes and wrote what that might have been like in light of my own experience.

Whether it is church, business or community, we as a people should always be willing to step outside ourselves and our personal friendships to invite people in. We never know what is going on in their lives and how much they just need a friend. They just want someone to ask their name.

THE VISITOR

You spoke on Sunday about reaching those in need, so I came to check you out. It was a big step for me to come to something outside of the Sunday service, but you said that is where people make friends and up to this point, no one had asked my name.

 I was in need; I knew I needed something else. My marriage was on the rocks, kids were out of control, the job in question and life wasn’t making sense, so I responded to your invite that you could help, but no one asked my name.

I was alone and didn’t know anyone but I came anyway. I stood in the line for food for what seemed like forever, smiling at anyone who looked my way in hopes to make a friend, but no one asked my name.

Behind me the guys seemed to be great friends with a lot in common; the same for those in front. Their laughter and bond was what I was desired so I turned in hopes of being invited in, but they turned just enough to let me know I was intruding. I turned back so as not to be a bother. No one asked my name.

At last I thought someone would be interested as the preacher walked up the line shaking hands with a smile. But then someone to the side caught his eye and he spun to give them a hello and a hug, and then turned back to those behind in the line. No one asked my name.

I sat down at a table to eat where again I smiled and said hello, only to receive a cordial nod of the head. Turning to the left, to the right and looking ahead, the bonds of these people were strong and what I desired, but no one asked my name.

After the meal I took the dirty plates of those around to the trash in hopes of making a friend. They looked at me as if my gesture was strange giving me an awkward smile. No one asked my name.

The program began; the best I’ve seen. The music was exciting, the guest speaker beyond belief. Captivated for more than hour I sat there ready to receive. Still, no one asked my name.

The night came to a close and all began to leave. Smiles painted on each person’s face as they said good-bye to friends with hugs and talk of getting together soon. I walked so slow in hopes of one last try to get someone to at least say good-night, but no one asked my name.

Today I’m returning one last time, bringing the wife and kids from my life. They have questions I can’t answer and tears I can’t console. Their lives are broken and I wanted to fix it but the answers I sought I could not find because no one asked my name.

As they roll me out past the doors and into the hearse to take me to my final resting place I hear the man locking the door say, “Who was this man that we buried today?” Finally, all I ever wanted,  someone asked my name.

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