The family that prays together …

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 24, 2001

Faith-based teaching and fellowship are critical in helping families to cope in today’s troubled world, said the Rev. Windell Green.

“I’ve known families who might not have made it if it had not been for the spiritual structure that helped to shape their decisions,” said Green, who has been preaching for more than 40 years and serves as pastor at Fourth Street Church of Christ.

Children learn from teachings of the church to obey their parents; parents learn to respect, not abuse their children, he said.

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“Key to the church’s teaching is love, which is the most important ingredient in marriage and in the home,” Green said.

Young families learn from the older ones, too, he said. “Younger members can see the more seasoned married couples and how they are committed to one another,” he said.

“They learn not to abandon ship when the first little bit of trouble comes along.”

People who have weathered many kinds of storms like to share their experiences with church family, Green said.

A father of five grown children, Green said he and his wife look to the congregation for strength and have always sought their prayers. Green taught school in Concordia Parish for 22 years, then retired in 1985 to become a full-time pastor.

“I got started in the church very early,” he said. “I preached my first sermon at 17 and I’ll be 60 on May 9.”

John Hudson agrees that a family benefits from journeying together spiritually. Hudson is a long-time Adams County youth court judge and is active with Methodist youth groups in Natchez.

“The family with a spiritual commitment becomes more committed to each other and ultimately to other people,” said Hudson, long associated with Jefferson Street United Methodist Church.

It follows that children from families who place importance on spiritual growth have a sense of who they are and where they came from, Hudson said.

“They find themselves by giving themselves away. That’s a common characteristic of families of that sort.”

The lucky children, whether they gain a sense of self from family or from other people who have influenced them, are the ones who begin early on to find a niche in what Hudson calls the “grand scheme.”

“There’s so much out there to be done, all a part of God’s grand scheme,” he said.

Hudson has noted through the years that from a group of perhaps 45 children, maybe five will be regulars taking part in service days. “You can get only five or six to work on a service project and 40 will turn out for a fun project,” he said.

Hudson tells the story of a young teenage athlete, whose interests ran from football to girls, not to service projects.

“He begrudgingly came,” Hudson said of the youth who joined five or six others in the project of building a ramp off the porch of a disabled woman.

The project included repairing the porch and then building the ramp. Hudson said he noticed the reluctant football player becoming more and more enthusiastic as the work continued through the day.

The ramp allowed the woman to attend church that week and sing in the choir.

“The next night at youth meeting we asked the kids who’d worked on this project to talk about it,” Hudson said.

“I told this kid he looked like he really got into it and didn’t want to stop. I asked him to talk about how he got into this.”

During the session, the group read from the Bible and talked about the passage in which Jesus says ministering “to the least of these” is to minister to Him.

The teenager connected with that passage, Hudson said. “He said, ‘I guess that’s what it was. I was meeting Jesus,'” Hudson said.

A footnote occurred, Hudson said, when the youngsters involved in the service project returned to complete their repairs of the porch. On that same day, while the children were there, she had another heart attack, Hudson said.

“They’ll never forget the expression on her face when she told them about being able to sing in the choir,” he said.

And they will never forget that it was down the ramp they had built for her that the ambulance drivers were able to roll her on a stretcher to get her to the hospital.

“They learned about the inherent power in all of us to step forward and do for others.”