We are to love everyone, no exceptions.
This was the message the Reverend Lisa Wiedman wanted our kids to take from her visit to Cunningham Children’s Home one evening during Chapel. Helping them to see God made us and loves everybody no matter how different they are or what they’ve been through in their lives.
Cunningham’s Chaplain Gay King Crede likes to have diversity with the people who present to our youth so they can see that faith can be expressed in different ways, different forms and different styles. This particular week, she brought in Pastor Lisa, who currently serves Farina and Patoka United Methodist Churches. She’s in Chaplain Gay’s Covenant Group which meets a couple of times each month. And she rides a Harley.
"I’m not what people expect," Pastor Lisa said, "but we don’t have to be like everyone else. Jesus was very different."
If the Harley and Pastor Lisa’s leather vest covered in patches with sayings like, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future; crashing sucks; and the 10 Commandments are not suggestions; didn’t get our kids’ attention, her story certainly did. Prior to her life in ministry, Pastor Lisa struggled with drug addiction and it wasn’t until she hit rock bottom that she turned her life around. After she found the strength to get clean, however, something was still missing in her life: God. And that relationship happened unexpectedly.
Several years ago, Pastor Lisa was at the funeral of her husband Bill’s closest friend and she happened to connect with the pastor’s message. She and Bill started attending church every Sunday. They were eventually baptized and later, she felt called to become a pastor. She has been able to combine that calling with another one of her passions. She and Bill always rode motorcycles and, together, they started a motorcycle ministry which allows them to reach a lot of people. When they’re riding, Bill and Pastor Lisa meet people who may never have the desire to step into a church but when they stop and talk with them, they're able to share about their faith.
She told our kids to believe in themselves, to not change who they are just to try to fit in and whatever their passion is, God will find a way to use it and speak to others.
Because of the abuse and neglect our kids have endured in their past, many of them have low self-esteem and don't feel worthy of God's love so Pastor Lisa's words were very powerful. Jamie*, one of our youth, stayed back and waited after Chapel to talk with Pastor Lisa. She is struggling with her own identity and was moved by Pastor Lisa’s message that it’s okay to feel or be different.
"You never know which kid is going to be touched or moved or changed by a person, a group, or even the music," Chaplain Gay said. "It has really surprised me which kids have resonated with certain speakers that I never expected. So it’s opening it up and letting God take it and use it in the best way."
*Our story is real but names have been changed to protect the privacy of our youth.