Where is Nancy?

Our first two children were about ages 3 and 5 when we assumed pastorate of a church in Southwestern Virginia. Town population was 6,000---small community. One morning I was in the courthouse when a mother told a judge that she wanted her 15 year-old daughter out of her house. The judge asked why. The mother offered no good reason. The judge was puzzled.

I was not a participant in the hearing, but asked the judge if I could speak. He agreed. I asked if he would allow me to talk with my wife and see if she would agree for us to take custody of the teenager. I fed a quarter into a pay phone, called Laila. She agreed.

Nancy moved in with us. We gave her a room in the parsonage. Bought her clothes. Watched her eat her first steak. Took her on trips. She was beautiful. Happy. Doing well in school. Danny and Dana loved her. We were talking adoption. Dreaming of sending her to college.

One morning Nancy decided to go home. Home to a mother and sister who sold themselves for money. Home to low-living, poverty, and hopelessness. Our hearts were broken.

About twenty years later I passed through the town in this story and stopped at a restaurant buffet for lunch. A waitress stood quietly assisting. She spoke to me:

"You do not know me, do you?" she said.

Discreetly, I responded: "I am sorry, ma'am. But I do not."

"I was almost your daughter," she said.

It was a difficult moment for me. I realized that caring was still in my heart. Yet time had passed. She had two children, apparently without a husband. She did not look as I had pictured her at this age. Life seemed to have taken its toll.

Years have passed. Laila and I are trying to find Nancy. More than once we have ridden streets and made phone calls in the community where Nancy lived as a teenager. She probably has grandchildren. We want to meet Nancy and her family. We still care.

I write to you in hopes of helping you to understand the heart and passion of Covenant. Folks come. Folks go---moving away, to heaven, to other churches, to difficulty in trusting God, sometimes to sin.

We care. How wonderful when folks return home. How wonderful when folks who have moved away call, write, come back to visit and send greetings.

We keep our hearts open. Even when our hearts are bruised we ask Jesus to help us keep the welcome sign out. Time often heals wounds. Time also has a way of bringing truth to light.

"Do not burn bridges to relationships," we say. Be patient. Let grace do its work.

Like Nancy, we grieve when we see lives that could have been lived gloriously with dreams coming true being traded for cheap offerings from the devil. Too often have I watched as people dear to me have traded Jesus for the material world. They talk faith loosely, pretending they are "Christian", yet their testimony does not speak of Jesus.

The years pass. The wages of sin add up. Selfish living is costly. Families distressed, health challenges, financial losses, friendships broken, and hardness of heart.

Yet, we pray for the Holy Spirit to bring the children home. We pray for spiritual awakenings that open blind eyes and set captives and prisoners free.

Meanwhile, we keep the doors open and follow Jesus closely. Such is the heart of Covenant.

Much love Pastor Bare

P.S. Pray that we find Nancy.