Friday, December 04, 2009

Anybody need a mint?

Several weeks ago our church hired a new senior minister. The getting-to-know-you phase is almost over, for which I’m sure everyone is grateful. One of his first sermons dealt with making the most of evangelistic opportunities, and he encouraged us to invite someone we knew to church. To remind us, we were handed Lifesaver mints with instructions not to eat the mint until we had invited one person.

I thought this was a hokey idea, and my first inclination is always to balk at orders, but I saved the mint, and it looked at me in silent reproach each time I opened my change purse. You see, between working here at the college and volunteering at the church, I know almost no one who isn’t already a Christian and active in a home church. Even my next-door neighbors on one side attend our church, and the ones on the other side have made it pretty clear that they don’t like to be repeatedly invited. So, I kept the mint for a month and finally tossed it out; it was pretty hairy-looking, even through its plastic wrapping.

But the idea wouldn’t die. Last night I went to get my hair cut and the grays covered. The stylist was very busy, and we started late. I thought my hair was almost done when she sighed, exasperated, and said, “This is just unacceptable—we’ll have to do it over.” My stubborn gray roots had not processed correctly, so I knew I was in for another hour at least, dashing my hopes of stopping by Kohl’s to see what was on sale. I made an offhand comment about my husband being at Journey to Bethlehem practice so he wouldn’t mind if I were late. At that point the conversation turned. My stylist said she and her family had come to Journey every year since she was 12, and she was looking forward this year to bringing her boyfriend and their little boy. I waited for my hair to process, and she went on to her next clients, a little girl and her mother. I sat in the next chair while she turned the girl into a princess, and began to get excited as she invited the girl and her family to attend Journey.

After they left, she went back to finishing my stubborn hair. By this time, the salon was empty, and she became more serious. She had not had any religious training as a child, and she said the first time she heard the Christmas story was at Journey. Now that her son is 2, she is looking for a church where she can find out more about Jesus, a church where her son will be welcomed so that he won’t have to wait for a pageant to learn about Christ. I explained the many opportunities for Bible study at our church, and made sure she had the service times. As I left, I wished her a Merry Christmas and told her I would see her in January. She said, “No, I think you’ll see me Sunday.”

Sure wish I had a mint.