4/28/12 Patricia, 61
A old acquaintance, whom I haven't run into for about three years, stopped by while I was doing yard work. Patricia has been a mail carrier in another part of our neighborhood for over 20 years, is well known here as a motherly figure who takes time to listen to anyone during her mail deliveries, especially loves the kids and teens, is safe to confide in and yet gives good old fashioned tough-love advice. She is African-American and from a different neighborhood, yet pours herself into ours, attending wakes and funerals and going out of her way to get involved with parents when needed. She told me some ex-gang members from our neighborhood sought her out recently to tell her proudly how they had left the gang and are succeeding in life. I saw her often when I worked at our neighborhood youth center until a few years ago, yet back then I never got around to asking about her beliefs, so today I took the opportunity. "I've know you a long time but never asked about your spiritual beliefs" I began. Pat told me she has attended a Pentecostal church all her life, which was like a second home to her when she was growing up. She believes in heaven and hell, and started to sound like a strong Christian until I asked why she believes she will go to heaven. "Well God better let me in after all the good I've done" she said. I began to talk about how we can't be saved by our good works. "But God knows my heart, He knows what a good person I am" was her answer. I hear this attitude often, but not usually so blatantly proud as this. I began to explain Eph. 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." While doing so, Pat had a call on her cell phone, and acted like she had been saved by the bell, ending our conversation. How could such a nice person like her attend church all her life and essentially miss the Gospel? Maybe its not clearly preached, but maybe Patricia also ignores it or runs away every time she begins to hear it.