We must learn to think of the church as being without walls, and use our homes as tools of ministry. Once we have opened the doors, to our private selves as well as to our private dwellings, can the inheritance of this unique clan be slow in coming?
As I originally penned these words in the 1970’s, I reckoned that period had been a most difficult year in my life. Early that fall I was put to bed with a severe form of “over-ministry,” a disease I have since discovered common to many a pastor and his wife. Neatly six months later, as I was beginning to feel strong again, my dear father became ill with an attack of encephalitis.
We were informed several times during a week of crises to be prepared for his death. Though he lived, six months later he is still in a nursing home making infinitely slow progress with no guarantee of a return to normalcy.
Every few weeks seemed to harbor a disaster, great or small. Our three-year-old was hit by a fast-moving bicycle and was rushed to a hospital for twelve stitches uncomfortably near his eye. Our eldest lost a fingernail which got in the way of a pitched ball as he was attempting to bunt. We sustained two cases of scarlet fever, various throat and ear infections culminating in what seemed like weekly trips to the pediatrician.
There were frequent visits to the community hospital 20 miles away to see my father, then to the rehabilitation center that was unable to rehabilitate, then to the nursing home with its wheelchairs and wandering senility and the 60-year-old mongoloid woman crying, “No! No! No!” for hours in the evenings.
The mechanical and physical supports in my life threatened to stop functioning. The washer stopped washing, the dryer stopped drying, the freezer couldn’t decide whether to freeze, mushing my hand-picked cherries and wild blackberries and the summer’s beans. The muffler went on the car. The kitchen faucet jammed and something under the sink pretended to be a fountain. The birthday Big Wheel lost a vital part which held the entire contraption together. Paint peeled on the eaves, and water leaked in the basement.
Karen Mains has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
For decades, Karen Mains and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
In addition, pastors will find special resources to help them create effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.