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Marlene Williams: Invite One

Her name was Janice Nelson. She lived two doors away and was my best friend. One day, when we were in kindergarten she invited me to go to Sunday School and church with her family. My parents did not attend church but gave permission for me to accompany Janice. Every Sunday for a year, I attended Miss Isabelle Warnock’s Sunday School class and learned about her Jesus. I heard Pastor Holmer preach about a God that loves me. I wanted to know more about Him. I loved the warmth of sitting in the pew with Janice and her family.

Then tragedy struck—at least in my young mind, it was a tragedy. It was my sixth birthday party and Janice told me her dad got a new job, so they were moving to Chicago. My heart sank as they drove down the street. I asked my dad to drive me to church so I could go to Miss Warnock’s class and hear Pastor Homer. As a young first grader, I now loved the Jesus my teacher loved. I sat by myself in the pew to listen to Pastor Holmer talk about God and hear the beautiful hymns and words from the Bible.

Dad faithfully drove me to that church every week to make sure I could worship and learn. Then Confirmation classes began. During that time, I knew I wanted to be baptized. One Saturday morning after Confirmation class that day I declared my faith before God and was baptized. I knew God loved me but now it felt official—God knew without a doubt I loved and trusted Him.

I often think of Janice, who understood “Invite One” before Don ever suggested it. I also remember Miss Isabelle Warnock, who loved Jesus so much that she shared that love with the young children. And Pastor Homer, who was intrigued by the young child sitting by herself every Sunday in worship, took the time to get to know me and visited my parents to share the Good News. 

I am forever grateful to all three who supported me as I began my faith journey. I often wonder how different my life might’ve been if they had not stepped up to share their faith.