His Mysterious Ways
Rob was a brand new pastor. He and his wife were newly assigned to their first ministry. They were going to reopen an older church in Brooklyn.
They arrived in early October, excited about their opportunities when they saw their church.
It was very run down and needed a whole lot of work. Their heart sank.
Still, they set a goal to have as much fixed as possible to open in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked long hours repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were on schedule and just about finished with enough to open in time.
On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving bitter cold rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.
On the 21st, Rob went over to look his little church to make sure everything was ready as possible, excited about the New Year's Eve Service.
His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The young pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service. He felt like just giving up and headed home.
On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in.
One of the items was a beautiful handmade ivory colored crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center.
It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall and it would add decor to the bare white wall.
Rob felt like doimg a little dance right there in front of everybody, screaming Thank You Lord! under his breath.
He bought it and hurried back to his little church.
By this time it had started to snow. An elderly woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch a bus, but missed it and was standing at the busstop with it snowing, She was so was so disappointed.
Rob saw her across the street and invited her into the church to wait for the next bus. She came in and sat in a pew.
She didn't pay any attention to the young pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.
Rob could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area perfectly.
It really set off the front wall. He knew it was a gift from the Lord. But what he didn't know was that Lord wasn't through...
Rob noticed the old woman now paying attention and walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.
"Pastor," she asked, "Where did you get that tablecloth?"
Rob explained where he found it and asked her why. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were.
These were the initials of the woman and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.
She explained that before the war, she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria.
When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured and sent to prison. She never saw her husband or her home again.
Rob wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she said it looked perfect just where it was. She asked Rob if she could come back again just to remind her of the wonderful life with her husband whom she still missed dearly.
Rob insisted on driving her home and she could tell him more about her former life that sounded so vivid after all these years. She lived on the other side of town.
What a wonderful service Pastor Rob and his wife had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full.
The music was great and one could feel the Lord's Presence. At the end of the service, he and his wife greeted everyone at the door. Many said that they looked forward to next Sunday'Service.
One older man, whom Rob recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare.
Rob wondered why he wasn't leaving. Maybe something was wrong or maybe the old man was sick. Rob walked over to ask him if everything was all right when the old man started speaking.
He asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tableclothes so much alike?
He told Rob how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison..
He never saw his wife or his home again. As the old man continued with details, Rob noticed the 35 years hadn't dimmed his memory either.
Rob asked the old man if he would allow him to take him for a little ride that might give the tablecloth a little more meaning...
They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where Rob had taken the eldery woman three days earlier, He helped the old man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment.
Rob knocked knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
The old man and old woman looked at each other and as tears began to stream, neither could speak.
They had been childhood sweethearts and young lovers that had lost each other for 35 years. God had heard and granted their deepest heartcry.
Rob had asked the Lord to use his little church as a place for reconciliation and God had answered with a mighty move before the doors even opened...
By Pastor Rob Reid
"It takes the build to make the presentation. But until you've seen the presentation, you won't understand the build."
Have a great day!