A week ago, I joined almost forty other brothers in Christ from my church, including my pastor, on a trip to an island near Galveston, Texas. We had carpooled together in a half-dozen large trucks. After we arrived, we stayed in two houses built on stilts, both within sight of Crystal Beach.
We must have appeared unique: a group of dozens of males who were African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic and various mixtures of the same, ranging in age from teenagers to seventy-ish-year-olds. Many came to fish, others to relax but everyone wanted to socialize with each other.
Actually, that was the whole point. Our pastor wanted as many men as possible from the church to have opportunity to spend time together, away from the distractions of day-to-day life or the responsibilities of their varying roles in the ministry. It was a chance to get to know each other better, to share experiences and testimonies. We got to see a different side of each other outside of church. It was nice to just be wearing t-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes and baseball caps.
We shopped for groceries in small groups and purchased ingredients to make our own food. That not only ended up saving a lot of money (from not paying to eat out) but also made for some tasty meals. As an extra bonus, we did a lot of talking while preparing and eating those meals.
I woke up at 5:00 am every morning. The first morning, it wasn’t intentional. A group of the brothers got up early to take the ferry to the mainland to catch a boat and go fishing. I decided to go ahead and get up and I didn’t regret it. The pre-sunrise morning light was extraordinary over the gulf waters and beach. A couple of brothers joined me on the deck and we had wonderful spiritual discussions.
It was such a peaceful environment, with the mild morning air, beautiful colors in the sky and the sea breeze. It was kind, safe and reassuring. It felt like a smile from the Lord. It felt good to be up for the sunrise. Even though it was cloudy the last day we were there, the clouds and breeze were still magnificent enough to take pictures and video with my phone. I was glad we had enough of an internet connection to allow me to post those to social media. (I am still a computer geek after all.)
I had so many conversations with so many different brothers, at all hours of the day. It reminded me of the trust we have with each other. I learned so much and shared an equal amount. It was very cathartic.
Now, throughout this article, I’ve been calling these men my "brothers." That's not only because we are brothers in Christ -- changed by His Love, the gift of salvation and the presence of His Holy Spirit in our hearts -- but because they are as close as family to me. I do not have a biological brother, but I have many brothers in the Lord. There’s something special in that kind of bond. Just like in biological families, none of us are perfect, we make mistakes and sometimes have misunderstandings. But it is easy to forgive and move on. And in doing so, our Father in Heaven will forgive us.
Hebrews 10: 23 - 25 (KJV)
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Our pastor reminded us that “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” is not only about attending church; it is also about maintaining fellowship outside of church.
When we left to return home, everyone seemed satisfied. We had taken a brief vacation from our regular lives and were returning a little stronger than before.
This group had meant to share each other’s company and friendship. But there was an unexpected benefit to us all: at the same time we had been fellowshipping with one another, we had shared the company and friendship of our Lord and Savior. In doing so, we experienced the Love of God.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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