Eight members from the Marchio Small Group chatted nervously as they waited for the van from the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. A month before, they had agreed to welcome a group of its residents into the home where they met for a time of fellowship. They learned earlier in the day that Tom Konstanty, Assistant Director of FCRM, would be bringing ten men to the home that night.
Nobody knew what to expect. What would these men be like? What were the circumstances that landed them at the rescue mission? Drug addiction? A string of felony convictions? Mental instability? What would they talk about? The only thing they knew was that God had orchestrated this evening, and they prayed that his Spirit would be with them through the night.
The group greeted their guests, and name tags were distributed. The men did not look “homeless” or destitute. As introductions were made, they wore the same expressions of warmth and hesitancy as the small group members. As if each person in the room was asking, “What am I doing here?”
Everyone filled their plates with snacks, and the group created a large circle of chairs in the living room for a game of Catch Phrase. Every other person in the circle put their name tags on their arms, forming teams of “Chests” vs. “Arms.”
The laughs quickly ensued once the game started. The men, who were all part of FCRM’s Step to Success Program, clearly shared a bond as they razzed each other about cheating and giving wacky clues. One man, Darren, hinted “It rhymes with ‘pima’,” as he tried to help his team guess “lima bean.” When a small group member gave the clue, “a soft, furry horse,” another yelled, “Seahorse!”
Connections were made and laughter filled the room, to the point that players could not shout their clues over the mirth. An hour and a half had passed in what seemed like minutes.
Steven, one of the tougher looking men who had declared his love for Jesus earlier in the night said, “I have to be honest, I really didn’t want to come tonight. But now, I am so glad that I came.” The small group, who had shared the same reservations, was glad too.
The men shared their lives with their hosts. One man beamed about a job that he just secured with a local nursery. Another talked about a recent, heartbreaking visit with his grandmother, who has become unrecognizable due to Alzheimer’s. Another shared his success with quitting smoking.
The night ended in prayer. The men were asked if they had any praises or prayer requests. Those who responded all shared praises: “I’m so thankful for this program.” “I’m thankful for what Jesus is doing in my life.” “I’m thankful that I have hope.” It was clear that God was teaching the small group something through the lives of their guests.
While the group was tired by the end of the night, it was hard to say goodbye to the men. A friendship had quickly formed between two groups who came away having been blessed by one another.