But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:25-27

As I travel around the country on my preaching rounds, I learn a lot about the church. Once, during Holy Week, I stayed with a husband and wife who, like me, were in their late middle age. A young woman named Luba was living with them. While I was there, I learned her story. She was a young Pentecostal Christian from the Ukraine who had been brought to America as a child in the 1980s to escape Communist oppression. The grandfather of the family had been imprisoned for his Christian faith; the parents and their children had lived in mortal dread that their Bibles would be taken away from them. They arrived in America with one suitcase apiece and no English at all except one phrase: "Thank you very much." They settled in Pittsburgh with freedom to worship openly in the Slavic Pentecostal Church there.

Later, Luba traveled to another American city to be a baby-sitter for a few weeks, and during that time my hosts observed not only her quiet intelligence and skill with the neighbors' children but also her developing Christian faith. They invited her to come and live with them and go to college, an opportunity she might otherwise never have had. By the time I met her, she had become like their adopted daughter.

Here is another story. In the 1990s I was invited to preach in a Roman Catholic Church in Greenwich Village. I stayed four ...

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