Freedom Thanksgiving

My new book Stranger God is out, and so much of the story of that book was formed by my life at Freedom Fellowship.

Saturday was our Thanksgiving themed meal for our monthly gathering. (We share a meal and worship service every Wednesday, and once a month on the third Saturday.) Darla put hours into cooking the main meal of turkey and dressing. Jana and I brought macaroni and cheese for a side.

The place was packed as we received a van-load of friends from the 180 House, where men and women are walking the long road to recovery. The sun is setting early now, so Tim put out the Christmas lights over the picnic table area. Mr. John, who you meet in Stranger God, was distressed last night. So I helped him get his plate of food.

The Pringles led our worship, as they traditionally do. Herb, my co-teacher out at the prison, was on lead electric guitar. As a worship leader, I always appreciate Rod's vulnerability, his tears quick to surface when he feels emotional about something. Charles and Linnie brought us to the Table. I helped bring the bread and juice to Judy, who you also meet in Stranger God, as she was feeling too dizzy to go down front. Patrica gave out the hugs. Hugs as a part of Eucharist is a Freedom tradition.

Kimberly, a recent graduate from FaithWorks, a Highland ministry that does job training for the unemployed and underemployed, shared her testimony. Kim grew up with a mentally ill and suicidal mother, has struggled with addictions, and has been incarcerated multiple times. But God is restoring her. Kim's story is a typical Freedom story.

After church I drove friends home. Kim and Amber to their transitional housing. Maria and Josh to their parent's house.

The subtitle of Stranger God is "Meeting Jesus in Disguise." Freedom is a place I go to meet Jesus.

And while I can make it sound romantic, it really is all very quite ordinary. Just like it was this Saturday.

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