After church last Sunday, I spent some time talking to one of my dear friends, Rudy Ross. The topic of the conversation was “joy” and what it truly meant.
The dictionary definition is a pretty good one: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Rudy spent some time describing the joy in his life. He owns a restaurant with his son near KU Medical Center called Fric & Frac “a place for food and fun on 39th Street since 1976.” Rudy is on the downhill side of 70, but still works many more than 40 hours per week. When Rudy is not working or sleeping, he is usually reading his Bible and writing.
Rudy was born into the Jewish faith, but became a Christian many years ago and is a Biblical scholar. His knowledge of the Old Testament is amazing. His Sunday morning classes are very popular and enlightening. He fully understands the meaning of joy and lights up the lives of many.
Rudy encouraged me to continue working as long as I could if it brought me joy. I still enjoy the practice of law, although certain aspects of it are tiresome, especially the constant time limits we live with. I told Rudy that I plan to continue working as long as people continue to call me to help them since it does bring indescribable joy.
Rudy and I also talked about the joy we had just experienced at our church, Maywood Baptist. Our young pastor, Jake Taylor, has a tendency to mix things up to keep us all on our toes, and he ended the pre-Christmas service with baptisms. In the Southern Baptist tradition, baptism is a profession of faith, not something that is essential to salvation. It is always a joyful experience at Maywood.
Last Sunday, a young child was baptized and so was a young man who has three months of sobriety. His girlfriend prayed for him before he was immersed in the baptismal waters. There were tears of joy amid the words of prayer and petition.
Yet, the best part of the service was the baptism of a young man who had been homeless just a few months ago. Stanley had been badly injured in an accident and needed assistance to descend the stairs in the baptistry. Because of his disabilities it took two people to baptize him. One of them was Marcus Watkins, one of the church “coaches” in training. Marcus came to Maywood a few years ago struggling with his own addiction and found a new life and along the way and a new wife who has joined him in his ministry. He is having a profound influence on many lives.
Assisting Marcus during the baptism was Scott Stoner. Scott was there to pray for him because he had met this young man on the streets when he was homeless. Almost every weekend throughout the year, Scott and his wife Dawn are out serving the homeless through their ministry, Hands and Feet of Jesus. They provide necessaries of life, clothes and shoes, warm blankets and food. They are now seeking donations for a mobile shower so they can provide that service to the homeless. (If you want to learn more about their ministry, you can check out their website at handsandfeetofjesuskc.org.)
Scott helped this young man transition from being homeless to an apartment. He now has a job as an auto mechanic and is helping many people. Recently, he was given a van that needed a lot of repairs. He went to various auto part stores and auto repair places to get donated parts and tires so he could restore the van.
After making the repairs, he donated the van to another member of the church in need. This young man has experienced the joy of receiving and giving. He has also found a home where people love him unconditionally.
Maywood is a place where joy abounds. I usually sit in the back of the church so I can watch joy in action. Lives are being changed and many are experiencing true joy for the first time in their lives.
Christmas Day is still a tough time for many who are estranged from their families that have been ravaged by their addictions. A few years ago, my good friend, Joshua Patterson, helped to fill that void on Christmas Day by serving dinner to many of them in the fellowship hall of the church. Joshua also buys gifts for everyone who comes as they engage in a Chinese gift exchange, which is reportedly a lot of fun. I intended to attend this year, but we had a house full of family, so I missed it. I am sure it was a joyful occasion.
It was good to spend some time with Rudy who reminded me of what brings joy. I plan to keep my day job, but I also plan to seek joy in other places. My church is a good place to begin.
– Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence, www.wagblaw.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.