A reflection with Ric story about an unforgettable change agent.
Who Knows My Name?
“This is my third time here. Does anybody know my name? Does anybody really care?” Leo asked.
Several of us attended that Wednesday evening college and career Bible study and prayer meeting when he asked this question. Leo had served as a missionary in the Congo, and recently returned to our community. None of us had met Leo prior to his first time at Bible study. He showed up one evening, seemingly out of nowhere.
It was an unexpected way to end our Wednesday evening Bible study and gave us a jolt. Our teacher (probably in her mid to late fifties) responded to Leo by asking him to continue his comments.
“It just seems like we come here. We listen to teaching from the Bible. We take prayer requests and then we pray. And then we get up and leave. Nothing seems to happen between Wednesdays and then we repeat the entire evening again. Does anybody really care?”
To my surprise, the Bible study teacher asked him for ideas and thoughts on what needed to change. He made several suggestions. We listened and acted.
Soon the weekly college career Bible study and prayer time became an Inner C event and was experiencing steady growth. The Inner C worked hard to know people’s names and make them feel welcome. We often gave different folks another name. Leo became Joe and I became Big O. Visitors found themselves surrounded by folks asking their name and making introductions and sincerely wanting to get to know them.
The Inner C always ended the evening by making sure everyone was invited to events that were now part of Inner C life such as softball games at the park on Sunday’s afternoons.
Soon there were other events that just seemed to happen. The Inner C went to the hydroplane races held once a year on Lake Washington in Seattle. Slurp jam fondue can do events (Inner C wording for something to drink and eat along with music and a positive attitude) happened at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. There were practical jokes played on others including church leaders. The Inner C exempted no one.
We welcomed students from Western Washington University, no matter their beliefs, dress or lifestyle. Our events often included the latest rock and roll music (now we call it old gold rock and roll).
Not long after Leo shared his observation and comments, we needed a larger room in the church for our Wednesday evening Inner C gatherings. The teacher thrived on the life and vitality of the Inner C. She punctuated her teaching with many challenging questions and stirred up discussion among us. Our prayer times became very focused, intense and at times spontaneous. I remember a time in particular where the requests were so many that prayer went on for hours.
Reflecting on these times during my college sophomore and half of my junior year at Western Washington University, I am so grateful to God to have been part of this unforgettable church college and career group called the Inner C. It provided a safe place where everybody knew your name and connected in unexpected ways with each other in a variety of settings.
Today I know it was never about the Inner C. The life and vitality of the Inner C flowed from a relationship with the One who knows our names and who is the ultimate change agent!
Yes, Leo. We now know your name, and God knew it all along.