The Conference sent my preacher friend Hadley to the 7th Ward in New Orleans. They didn’t give him land to build a church. They didn’t give him an old church to resurrect. They didn’t give him a place to put a sign saying, “The future site of a United Methodist church.” They told Hadley, “Go and do the work of Christ in the 7th ward.” Hadley went.
Hadley is one of those preachers that you love listening to. He is so full of Jesus that Christ flows from everything he says and does. When Hadley launches into one of his stories, you’d better hang on.
Hadley started a church in a tent. A tent works in New Orleans most of the year. There were some cold days that the tent was not so hot, but most of the time the tent worked.
When you have church under a tent, there is no designed starting time for services. People would show up, mill around, listen to the music playing, and when the time and the crowd were right Hadley would start services.
He had a generator that allowed him to power a sound system and a coffee pot. Those are the two most necessary items in today’s church. Let either fail and you will hear about it from the faithful followers.
One Sunday morning, Hadley arrived at his usual early time and started the generator and the coffee pot. He said a fellow staggered up. He had come from one of the neighborhood bars and was headed home after an all-nighter of consuming adult beverages. He was drunker than Cooter Brown, whoever he or she might be.
Hadley introduced himself and the man returned the favor. He told Hadley that his name was Pokechop. The proper spelling would be Porkchop, but slurred pronunciation came out Pokechop. He also unfolded why Hadley should know him. He was a former New Orleans Saint. Pokechop was very drunk and very loud. Hadley just listened. Then Hadley invited the very drunk man to stay for church.
Pokechop said, “A church that would let me in is not much of a church.”
Hadley convinced the man that indeed he was welcomed at the church and please have another cup of coffee. Pokechop stayed around. As the morning progressed Pokechop introduced himself to the congregation with all the unction of a man who had spent all night drinking. He was a most “active” greeter for the Sunday morning services.
Later that Sunday morning, the drummer called Hadley’s cell phone and told the minister, he would be missing in action for the worship service. Pokechop heard the conversation. He told Hadley. “I play the drums.”
Pokechop was sobering up, but he had not arrived at full sobriety. Hadley inquired about his talents and then asked for a brief audition. Sure enough Pokechop played the drums. He played them well.
Pokechop played the drums for the Sunday morning worship service in the tent.
That morning at the end of the service, Pokechop gave his life to Christ and joined the Methodist church.
“A church that would let me in is not much of a church.”
May our tribe increase.