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Sabbath School Special Feature
Welcome Home Sabbath
November 21, 2015
Worth the Wait*

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT).

How long would you be willing to wait for someone to return to God? Would a year be fair enough? That would seem a long time to wait and pray. How about two years? Surely after that amount of time, you might be tempted to think that waiting is useless. But Carrie* prayed and waited for her friend, Heather, for five years! And it was worth the wait.

When Carrie noticed that Heather had missed church two Sabbath’s in a row, she called to check up on her. Heather said she’d decided to quit God and the church. She was angry with God. Why? Her husband had found someone else and was leaving her. And she was leaving the church because she didn’t want to face the many questions—and the empty seat that would be next to her.

She told Carrie, “I don’t want anything to do with God or the church, and I don’t want to talk about it!” So Carrie never brought up the subject again. But what she did do was stay in touch with Heather on a regular basis.

“I called her often,” Carrie told me. “Sometimes we’d meet for lunch or at the mall. I made sure to keep our friendship alive.”

During this time, Carrie and her husband, Dean, prayed for Heather’s heart to be softened. They prayed—without giving up hope—for five long years. When Dean was asked to preach the sermon one Sabbath, he called and invited Heather to church. She emphatically told him that she did not want to come. But Carrie prayed, and hoped, and waited in the foyer that Sabbath morning. To her delight, Heather walked in!

Carrie sat with Heather during the service so there wouldn’t be an empty seat next to her. When Dean had an altar call at the end of his sermon for those who wanted to recommit their lives to Jesus, Carrie took a chance.

“Do you want to go forward?” she asked Heather. “I’ll go with you.”

And the tears began to run down Heather’s face. Hand-in-hand she and Carrie walked up to the altar. There Heather let go of five years of grief, anger, and separation from God. It was a sweet relief!

Carrie told me, “Heather came back to God and the church that day, and stayed a faithful member for the next 15 years. Then one evening, she died suddenly from a massive heart attack. I will always be glad that I never gave up on her. It was worth the wait.”

Prayer Focus: Pray the God would touch our active members’ hearts to be willing to take time out of their busy lives to touch base (without growing weary) with the disconnected in winsome ways.

Recommended Resource: Jacob’s Trouble: Hope for Hurting People, by Alanzo H. Smith & June Ann Smith http://bit.ly/1tZ73rn

*All names have been changed
—Written by Nancy Canwell
Writer/Project Coordinator
Center for Creative Ministry

*View this and other stories like it on the Center for Creative Ministry website: www.creativeministry.org