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Carol Stewart, Sun City Center

Carol Stewart, Sun City Center

May 14, 2014

Carol Stewart, Sun City Center
I often describe myself as a “Kool-Aid and Cookie Christian” because one summer when I was about 10 years old I heard that a church in our town was having Vacation Bible School. My family didn’t go to church, but someone said they had Kool-Aid and cookies at VBS.

So I walked 15 blocks to church. We sang songs, learned about the Good Shepherd and the lost lamb – and yes, we had Kool-Aid and cookies. When Vacation Bible School was over, I kept walking to church. I joined a Sunday school class, later became part of a youth group, and accepted Christ as my Savior. The church became my family, and I was very active.
Years passed and life seemed too busy for church. Besides, I still prayed, read the Bible, and believed in Christ. I became a “do it yourself Christian.” I never lost my faith, but it became a faith of convenience. I believed, but it was no longer personal.

I am a most ordinary person – and yet God chose to love me. He never took His hand off my life. He blessed me with miracles of healing, He shielded me from harm. He gave me words when I had no words and strength when I had no strength. I knew He was calling me back, but thought I could manage on my own.

However, the day finally came when I couldn’t carry the burdens alone. I ached with memories of the loneliness and pain of my childhood. I was anguished by the wrong turns, bad decisions and foolish mistakes of my adult life. And now I was facing yet another family crisis.

Desperate and needy I went back to church. Did God know I’d be there when the sermon was planned for that Sunday? Of course He did! The message was from Matthew 20 about the workers in the vineyard. Those who came to work near the end of the day were welcomed and paid the same as those who came early.

I’d come early to work in the field but wandered away; I was the lamb who had strayed from the Good Shepherd. Now bruised and broken, I surrendered myself to Christ and found peace and joy in the miracle of His redeeming love.

So once again I came to work in His vineyard, once again I came to rest in the “green pastures of the Shepherd.”

Up May 28…

Dale White, Killearn UMC, Tallahassee

I came to believe in Jesus Christ through KUMC and the Celebrate Recovery program there. I have answered God's call to me and, with the help of KUMC and others, have founded "The Living Harvest,” a faith-based transitional housing ministry for those getting out of prison.