Years ago I was asked to minister at a church camp. The topic was one I regarded as extremely important – ‘Mates in Christ!’
When we assembled we bonded quickly except for one fellow who hung back. He was apart in his own world and his mind was obviously miles away.
At the first sensitive opportunity I took him aside. As we sat together under a shady tree, we watched the surf rolling restlessly.
When I asked him to share with me, his answer was not unexpected. “My wife talked me into buying a house on a very small deposit. She always wanted a nice home,” he said with his eye staring into his lap. “Now there’s no work and we’re going down the tubes. I owe the bank too much money and we’re going to lose everything. On top of that our marriage is shot. She’s talking about leaving me and I just don’t know where to turn.”
His head was bowed, his shoulders slumped. His wife had encouraged him to attend this camp, so I guessed she had positive hopes for her husband.
We talked through some of the details and then I asked, “Are you prepared to share your position with the other guys?” His reply stunned me, “Most of them know!” he said.
‘Have you made a personal commitment to the Lord?” I asked. He shook his head.
That night when the entire group came together, he chose to share his struggles openly. As he spoke, his shoulders heaved and tears broke through his banks of defence. Men across the room also openly wept. Some came forward to pray with him. They hugged him and some offered to give him a practical, helping hand.
The men moved into a deeper relationship with the Lord and with each other as they prayed for their friend, who in that moment, became their brother in the Lord.
Then I said, ‘I believe we should make arrangements so that you and your wife can go away to a suitable resort for a week. Put aside the problems for a moment and just love one another.”
One of the men laughed and suggested, “Get flowers and all that stuff!”
As these men shared this adversity together, they felt the bond of brothers. Over that weekend one after another opened their hearts and they made intimate contact at a new level of reality.
2 Peter 1: 7 sums it up “….to your brotherly affection, add love.”