Eight years ago, I was standing in the Target checkout line behind a young woman. She had five items: diapers, wipes, formula, bread and milk. When she paid with her debit card, it was denied. She tried again and again. Still denied.
As she walked away, I thought, “Should I pay for her?” I wasn’t sure, so I allowed her to walk away. I had immediate regret. It bothered me for the rest of the afternoon and when I shared the story with my husband at dinner, he could not understand why I would not have helped.
I was resolved that the next time that happened, I would pay. So, I asked God to give me another opportunity to serve in that way.
Four years ago, I was standing in the grocery line behind a very pregnant mom with a toddler propped on her belly standing next to a huge mound of groceries. I heard the young mom tell the cashier that their fridge and cabinets were empty and her boyfriend had just been paid.
But when she swiped the debit card, it was denied. She tried again and again. Still it was denied.
She was flustered and asked if she could leave and call the bank. As the young mom waddled outside to call the bank, I thanked God for this opportunity and told the cashier that I would pay for her groceries. The cashier appeared uncertain, but I assured her that I wanted to do this – anonymously. So, I paid for her groceries and then mine. As I pulled out of the parking lot, tears streaming down my face, I witnessed the groceries being placed in her van and I sang, “To God be the glory, great things He has done.”
That night at dinner I shared a different story with my husband; a story that detailed God’s goodness by offering me a second chance. Later that evening, I saw a post on our neighborhood Facebook page: a mom detailed what had happened at the grocery store that afternoon and how thankful she was. I commented on the post and told her that my “friend” had shared her story of buying the groceries for a woman and wanted her to know that she gave because God had given to her. Then I posted the hymn with words:
“To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.”
During this time, we had been asked to leave our church of many years. I found myself in a dark and lonely place. A place of rejection and isolation. As Sunday came, I had no desire to go to any church, but our faith was in God and so we attended a different church. We snuck in the side door and sat in the back row to stay hidden, but the pastor walked over to welcome us. At the end of the service, we quickly exited.
The following week, the pastor requested to meet with us. He had asked some questions as to why we were present at his church and he felt like we needed to have a conversation. In that meeting, I shared my innermost feelings of anger, rejection and isolation. There was no filter on my mouth.
The following Sunday, we returned to the church. We snuck in the side door and sat in the back row. I noticed that the pastor’s wife left her front row seat and made her way to me. She leaned across my husband and asked if she could talk to me at the end of the service. I immediately thought, “How dare he share my thoughts with his wife. Now she wants to counsel me.” I turned to my husband and requested to leave. His response: We were staying. At the end of the service, he directed me to go talk with the pastor’s wife.
As I stood in front of her, she said, “Kim, we have been considering starting a MOPS group and someone told me this week that you know a lot about MOPS. Would you consider helping us?”
This is what I heard: ”Kim, I see you. I know you. I love you. I accept you. I have a place for you.”
It wasn’t the pastor’s wife talking to me – it was God. “Yes” was my response, and I asked forgiveness for my preconceived thoughts concerning the pastor and his wife.
The MOPS group at that church has thrived, growing each of the last three years, as they reach out into their community to build friendships with moms. Lives have been changed. Families have been impacted.
Last year, our home church decided to start a MOPS group at the church plant located in our neighborhood. They asked if they could use our garage and its space upstairs for the meetings and child care. We agreed.
When launch day approached for the new group in our garage, I decided to attend their first meeting. The group had created an introductory booklet, which included information about MOPS and interviews with each Leader. As I read one particular interview, tears began to stream down my face. The Coordinator had been asked the question, “What is the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you?” She shared her story: About four years ago, she had a huge mound of groceries in the checkout line, no money on the bankcard, and a stranger paid her bill. She explained that she was not a Christian at the time and was living with her boyfriend. Since that time, she has become a follower of Jesus Christ, married her boyfriend, joined the church plant, and gained a desire to share the hope of Jesus with other moms.
Again, I heard God say, “Kim, I see you. I know you. I love you. I accept you. I have a place for you.” I am in awe of the way God demonstrates His love and care for us. I am thankful for MOPS and the impact it has had and continues to have in my life.
Kim Gentry and her husband live in southern Florida where they manage colonies of honeybees for pollination and honey production as well as raising four children.2