The Holy Spirit at Work
By Steve Haigh
Dinner Church has been an eye-opener for me. The range of difficult human experiences is hard to comprehend from my sheltered viewpoint from the north-side. Drugs, murder, robbery, homelessness, joblessness, fear, despair, sickness, mental health issues, and broken families are prevalent. Yet there is a sense of community that pervades our dinner church tables each Wednesday evening. Broken or not, these people tend to band together, sometime simply for utility (for example, sharing the rent), but often for family and companionship.
My job as a table leader is to greet our guests with a warm smile and engage them in friendly, interested conversation. A few weeks ago, I found myself at a predominately Spanish speaking table of young and old, men and women, who were to shock and surprise me. Carlos is a contractor looking for work. Mateo, whose English is quite limited, has been homeless for over a year and sleeps on Carlos’ front porch, “When he lets me”. Through tears, we prayed with Mateo. Juan, who didn’t say much at all, seemed agitated. Later, I learned Juan’s brother was stabbed and killed just 4 days earlier.
Across the table from me was the apparent senior statesman of the group, Santiago, a gregarious 60’s-ish gentleman who explained he has many kids and grandchildren. “You’re a blessed man”, I said. He simply smiled and said, “That’s my daughter”, pointing to the 30 year old-ish looking woman who was Juan’s lady friend. “And that’s my granddaughter”, pointing to Paulina, a 25-year-old-ish lady sitting next to me. Oh, I thought, They all know each other… This is good. They’re family. But to my surprise, Paulina responded, “Ya, I just met him tonight.” What? I thought. How can that be? “You’re pulling my leg!” I responded with a smile. But it was true. Paulina and Santiago, granddaughter, grandfather, had never meet before. “Do you want to give him a hug?” I ask Paulina. In between bites of fried chicken and green beans, came a shoulder shrug and reply, “Meh.”
A few weeks later, Paulina and Santiago arrived at dinner church, together. Santiago explained he’s been trying to change his ways. “God is working on me”, he said in his Spanish accent. “I need to get to know my granddaughter. We’ve been talking now.”
Yes, the Holy Spirit is at work at dinner church.