You've Got A Friend

By Rev. Keith Turman | 2023-07-10 | 3 min read

A stranger walked into our house early on Saturday morning. He helped himself to the coffee pot and sat down at the table. His appearance unsettled me a bit, but I was determined to get his name, so I approached the table and sat down. He said he had just gotten out of prison. I figured as much. I’ve seen that tattoo many times on the faces of men in prison—a teardrop positioned just below the corner of his left eye. His smile was contagious, his spirit was gentle, and his testimony revealed a determination that his life would move on a different path this time around. The real tears forming in his eyes let me know that he was genuinely grateful for a home like ours—grateful that there was a place at our table for someone like him. At eight-o’clock, when our Friendship House chefs wheeled in the hot breakfast, this stranger knew that he had a friend—a whole bunch of them actually—and he knew that he was not alone. I suppose that’s why our house was so full last Saturday morning. In all these years, I don’t recall a time when so many people showed up. The Faith classroom was so full of hungry souls that our kitchen crew had to scramble up a second round of eggs and hashbrowns. The shower sign-up list was running off the bottom of the page, our courtyard was teeming with life, and the food pantry hadn’t even opened yet. The miracle was not lost on me. At one point, as I was standing on the sidewalk taking in the activity and the conversation, I thought to myself, “How can this be happening? We’ve lost two very valuable staff members, which created a time of transition at the Friendship House, and yet the ministry is growing—the number of strangers seems to have doubled!”

It didn’t take me long at all to figure it out. God has blessed this place—starting with FUMC’s staff. I am continually amazed at how our church staff is willing to shift gears, change directions, fill in gaps, and basically do whatever is necessary to keep vital ministries vital during times of change. And none of it is even possible without you, our Friendship House volunteers. As soon as you realized the need, you stepped up to the plate. Thank you for your commitment and for your hard work!

A week before our looming staff vacancies, we received a timely call from Helping Hands, a non-profit organization in Waynesville that helps families in need. They were looking for office space in a location suitable for meeting with clients, which they now have in our big pantry area! Helping Hands has helped some of our regular clients while also serving their own—even providing free legal counsel on Tuesdays. In addition to all of this, we have established a unique relationship with Ben and Jessica, newcomers to FUMC. In exchange for office space which enables them to start new jobs, they help operate the Friendship House during the weekday morning hours. It’s all quite amazing.

I am grateful today for all of you. Your enthusiasm and joy brighten the rooms, and you make everyone feel at home. Strangers, newcomers, and old-timers alike—they all know that in this place, they can always find a friend.

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