Joe hailed from Texas, somewhere around Killeen. I went to Texas once, and didn't think much of the place. Evidently he didn't either because he got the heck outta there and moved onto Arkansas. His lovely ex-wife Martha is one of my best friends ever in this world.. Swear on a stack of Bibles.
Martha Ann took me to a revival a few miles north of home where Joe was preaching. Now mind you, she didn't sign up for this. When they were engaged, she thought she was marrying an Air Force pilot in training. The Lord had other plans in mind for the boy and so there you go, into the ministry. We drove to Trimble and settled into the center pew. There's three sections of pews, each with their own usual inhabitants. The Pope family is spread all over in amongst the Whitsons and the Shoffners and the Roses. Stained glass windows are strung along each of the side walls with memorials to saints etched at their bases. Old Mrs. Mooney worshipped here back in the day, along with many other faithful ones.
Joe called on the Bible moths to read their passages during his sermon. My spot was marked with a visitor card, so I found it quickly and read out loud from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. " Lord, when was it that I saw you hungry and gave you food, or hungry and gave you something to drink. And when was it that I saw you a stranger and welcomed you. Visited you while you were sick or in prison." I knew right then that it was, once again, about the least of these and the sheep and goats.
Many years later, I visited that church again, several times. Joe and Martha were long gone from my life...moved on to their next chapter. The first time I went, you'd have thought I was the prodigal daughter come back to roost among the faithful. I filled out the visitor's card once again and chatted with my new friends. We smiled at the kids and sang hymns that we knew by heart, because we've heard them over and over whenever two or more are gathered in His name. I heard there was fried chicken later. Bet it was good.