Hospitality in Florida

We were at Grace Presbyterian Church in Stuart, Florida this past Lord’s Day, where I preached twice on the sufferings of our Savior. We enjoyed the congregation immensely.

Manny, the “candyman,” offered me some candy from his bag after the service. About 14 years ago, Manny and his family were planning to move to Atlanta on a Monday morning. But on the Sunday before, their teenage son got into an accident with the family car near the church. Pastor Bernie VanEyk (seen in photo #1 behind my left shoulder) and others went to minister to this distraught family. Their son was not injured, but the family car was totaled and their plans were shredded. But they received so much love from the church folks that they stayed in Florida, and they have been coming to Grace Presbyterian ever since. Manny interprets sermons into Spanish, and he is at the center of anything that involves serving food. The infectious love and kindness of Pastor Bernie is palpable in this church, in Manny, and in many others.

Yesterday morning, we went out for a relaxing brunch with Bernie and his wife Patricia, who is a pro at warm, Christian hospitality. They are both from Ontario and have been at Grace for 17 years. Whenever we drove through the VanEyk’s neighborhood, Bernie would drive very slowly, and look for neighbors to wave to. We stopped to chat to a couple boys walking. He told us the story of a lady who survived cancer. He intentionally befriends as many as possible. He said with fervor, “I just want my whole neighborhood to know and love Jesus!” We have been inspired on our Christian journey these days, also by spending time with the warm VanEyk family.

%d bloggers like this: