Lillie Duncan has been watching First Baptist on television for over five years, but life has not been the same since her 90-year old husband passed away after a long battle with cancer. On Sunday mornings, First Baptist has been her worship home through our television ministry. But she had not attended our church until last year’s Christmas brunch. Her daughter Sue Johnson brought Lillie along with her great-grandchildren to our Christmas brunch again Saturday, and Lillie and I had a chance to meet.
For five years, the Christmas brunch has touched the kind of people who have been hurt the most by the economic downturn. They were receding before there was a recession. Under normal circumstances, when life piles on routine stress, our guests struggle. During times like these, many people face collapse.
Lillie and Sue are good examples. Lillie is homebound but fiercely independent. She cannot drive. She told me that the brunch would be her only meal of the day. She can’t cook for herself anymore. At age 70, Sue not only cares for her mother, but she’s also the primary caregiver for two grandchildren, a boy and girl ages 9 and 10. Their father has been through a divorce, works to make ends meet, and relies on his mother to provide assistance. In between her responsibilities as a mother, grandmother, and daughter, Sue works a part time job at a local mental health facility. Sue heard about the brunch because we contacted the facility to spread the word about the brunch. She shared the information at her work, and she brought her family back to enjoy the meal and festivities.
For one morning in December, there is hope, friendship, love, warmth, and as Sue Johnson said, “Smiles. If there is a frown, and someone gives them a smile, they might turn it around.” There were over 250 smiling volunteers sharing with people like Lillie and Sue and hundreds of others. We could not do this without your generosity and the volunteers who gave more than a Saturday to smile and love the people in the way Jesus loved them.
(Pictured from Left to Right: Sue Johnson, Sydney and Zachary Johnson, Lillie Duncan