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Unity In Christ

Have you ever met people you were drawn to because of the peacefulness in their nature, or their actions, or their smiles?

Pastor and Mrs. Thomas were two of those people for me.

Pastor Thomas was a local pastor at an African-American church. He and his wife hosted bible studies in their home. My friend, Shari, would attend and then share with me about her experiences with her new friends. She would tell me about her Pastor friend who would drive around Cape praying and dreaming about a different community. A community that would reach and serve the people that were forgotten or pushed aside. They would pray with the homeless or drug dealers and organize barbecues in some of the crime-ridden areas. I wanted to meet him, so she invited me to her home to sit with him as he shared the gospel.

When I first met Pastor Thomas I was automatically drawn to him. I observed a man who loved well. I would sit in his presence and listen. I eventually started attending the Bible study in his home, along with his wife and several others. I would sit intently with the group soaking in every detail about his relationship with Christ, being blessed by his knowledge of the Bible, and learning as he shared about himself.

We would listen to his dreams for our community.

We would hear stories of his past and his family.

Through the stories I realized our struggles in some ways were the same, but I also began to realize what they had faced being poor and black from Southeast Missouri. What was inspirational to me was that neither he nor Mrs. Thomas ever let their struggles define them.

Christ defined who they were.

Pastor Thomas’ life was about sitting with the homeless, visiting jails, and chasing after the people society deemed worthless. When I sat in the presence of Pastor and Mrs. Thomas, I saw Christ. I wanted more of what they had, so I would write down his quotes and put them in my Bible. Mrs. Thomas would sit with me privately and listen to my struggles and softly point me to the scriptures to find answers to my deepest sorrows, conflicts, and questions.

Pastor Thomas would share life lessons with me. One of my favorites was when we were in Africa. I ask him why people in the richer countries weren’t as close to Jesus as some of the Africans who were so impoverished.

His insightful answer was this ....

“Becky, we in the United States have insured ourselves out of needing God. Things go bad when we try to bless ourselves. When we are patient and obedient to God he blesses us. “

He passed away a few years ago, but his quotes and stories live on in my heart. Those who had the blessing of knowing him still refer back to his dreams and his wise words.

I believe that everyone needs a Pastor and Mrs. Thomas in their lives. Unity in Christ was their mission. They didn’t see color and they taught me to not see it also. They didn’t see educational status, socio-economic status, denomination, or lifestyle either. I learned so much about who Christ is through them. I will forever be grateful for their mentorship and love.

I encourage all to pray and seek friends from different age groups, life experiences, backgrounds, races, and denominations. What I found with the Thomas’ are some of the richest blessings God could ever bestow on me ❤️

They taught me that unity in Christ transcends everything.


Becky Sides-Harding met her husband, John Harding, at the University of Missouri where they both graduated and have been married for 28 years. They have three children Caroline, JD and Kate, and recently became grandparents. Becky co-owns Area Properties Real Estate - River Region, which currently partners with two local foster nonprofits. She has served in many different capacities at the United Methodist church, and is passionate about third world missions, particularly in Haiti.

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