On Sunday, we send out buses and vans and pick up people. It’s a normal thing for people to also get dropped off by friends or family. But this wasn’t a normal Sunday. When Marlene was dropped off, it was clear right away that something was off. Marlene was talking to herself, being quite loud, and acting strangely. We suspected she was on drugs. It was about 9:30 and Church starts at 10:30, so not many people were there yet - just a few of us getting things set up. We needed to do something because we didn’t want to have an intoxicated person around the kids, because they need to feel safe. Mary Granberry talked to her and got her some coffee. I went back to my regular routine of preparing for the kids. During Church, Sarah asked me to open the bathroom because the lights were off and the door was locked (a regular occurrence with the bathrooms). After opening it, Sarah told me someone was in the shower and clothes and water was all over the floor. My first thought was, “Oh man, one of the kids is taking a shower during Church!” But when I asked Mary about it, she informed me it was Marlene in there and she was keeping an eye on her.
The service continued and at one point, we looked out the windows and Marlene was running around and tossing giants pieces of firewood. Fortunately, the kids went back to what they were doing and it was a fairly normal Sunday. After Church ended and after the kids were all gone, I found out that the police had picked up Marlene and dropped her off before Church. I also found out that when Chris was preaching, she was yelling and cursing in the bathroom. She wound up outside so we could minimize the disruption and chaos. Some of us on staff were a bit dumfounded, wondering, “Why would the police do that, instead of arrest her for public intoxication? What were they thinking?”
Later in the week though, as we thought about Marlene’s situation more, we were happy the police brought her. She’s been involved with our Church off and on for a maybe a year or so. She’s been in and out of jail, and addicted to drugs for some time. When the police picked her up early Sunday morning, she asked them to take her to Church, and they did. As a Church, we work with a lot of addicts - current, and recovering. Most of the kids are children of addicts. I love that we are a Church for drug addicts, and when the police have someone who needs help, the Church people can help. The Church is a hospital for the sick, and unless the sick people are showing up to get help, then the Church needs to rethink some priorities and purpose. Ultimately we were unable to help Marlene as she won’t go to rehab, but Hope Fellowship is a place where broken people are loved, helped, and pointed in the right direction. And while she wouldn’t go to rehab that day, Marlene knows we love and care for her and will help her when she’s ready to get help.