I have a friend who is a fellow pastor in Kansas City. We were talking just last week about Easter plans at our respective churches. As we visited, he relayed the following story:
Over 40 years ago there was a lady named Judy. Her family lived in southeast Springfield. Judy and her husband, Bill, had two small children. Yes, they’re the stereotypical Ozark family. It was springtime and Judy decided to buy her daughter a new dress. After some searching, she found just the right dress. Pleased with her purchase she hung the dress in the closet thinking that someday her daughter would have an occasion to wear it.
One day Judy drove past a church on Lone Pine. The sign in front of the church said, “Easter Service, All Welcome!” None in the family had never attended church. None of them. The first thought Judy had? She thought immediately of her daughter’s new dress hanging in the closet and said to herself, “My daughter has a new dress that she could wear to that church!” And, sure enough the next Sunday, all scrubbed and clean, Judy and the kids showed up for Easter services at that church on Lone Pine.
I can imagine what that little family felt like walking into church for the first time. In fact, I’ve seen that look at thousand times on the faces of first-time guests – “I’m new here.” “Where do I go?” “Where should I sit?”
Judy heard the Gospel that Easter Sunday and at the close of the service she asked Jesus to change her life, her husband, and her family. She and the kids started attending church regularly. Time went by. Judy started praying. More time passed. Judy just kept on praying.
And . . . one by one her children came to Christ. And finally, miraculously, Bill also accepted Jesus!
What was the ultimate impact of that pretty, Easter dress that just needed a place to be worn? Well, the little girl’s name was “Shelley.” Bill and Judy Richardson raised Shelley and her little brother, Brian, at Second Baptist on East Battlefield. Brian Richardson now serves as one of the pastors at Lenexa Baptist Church and the entire Richardson family is involved in Gospel-life ministry that literally touches the lives of thousands in the Kansas City metro area!
Fellowship, there’s a world of people out there looking for more than a pretty dress. They’re looking for something that will fill that empty void in the heart. Fellowship, let’s be faithful to share the Gospel, be warm and welcoming, and hold Him high! “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).