Her slumped shoulders and shaky hand betrayed her attempt at emotional composure. And for good reason: as a first time guest at our church, she had just revealed to one of our volunteers that she’d moved to the Triangle from across the country. She was in a new medical residency program, she was thousands of miles from home, she knew no one, and she was all alone.
And so, as she dropped her head to fill out the information card, her lip started to quiver and her eyes brimmed with tears. The volunteer at the First Time Guest Tent was a mom and grandmother who knew what it was like to send her kids across town and across the globe. She knew a brave front when she saw one, and so she put her hand on the guest’s arm and asked
Baby, do you need a hug?
She did. Our volunteer opened her arms and the guest fell into them. One cried as the other whispered reassurances. A surrogate mom comforted a displaced child, and the gospel was put on display once again.
Not every guest wants to be touched. Not every encounter should involve physical contact. But every once in a while, the Holy Spirit is going to nudge us to give a reassuring touch to the heartbroken, an arm on the shoulder of the hurting, or an embrace to stave off the loneliness of a guest. I’m grateful for volunteers who are willing to risk the question in order to bring comfort to those who need it.