I’ve married a bunch of couples in my day. No offense to any of them, but last week was the best wedding I’ve ever performed.
Some background. One of our families have been missionaries in a closed country for years. (I’ll leave out their names and the country they’ve been serving in….if you recognize them from the picture that will be enough) Just recently, they and all the believers who were working in their area were forced to leave that country and never return. It has been a hard time of grieving for them but they are now coming to terms with what the Lord has allowed and what He’s doing next. He has opened up a new door of ministry for them overseas and they have set out to fulfill that calling.
Here’s the catch: they were married years ago in the country they have been serving in. That means the documentation of their marriage is with the government of that country. A country that is now closed to them, thus cutting them off from that documentation. Since they need proof of their marriage to begin their new work, they decided to be remarried here even though they’ve been married for over two decades already.
As their pastor, they approached me about performing their second marriage ceremony. They went to the Florence County Complex and got their new marriage license and we talked through some different options for when and where to do the ceremony.
We settled on Ruby Tuesday’s….at the Florence Mall…over lunch.
We arrived. I filled out the documents and I showed them the vows they would need to take to be married again.
When the waitress arrived she complimented the wife’s red sweater; to which she replied, “I wanted to look nice, we are getting married today!”
Our waitress immediately perked up and asked when that would happen.
Our friend replied, “Today…..right here….in just a few minutes.”
You should have seen the incredulous look on our waitresses’ face to discover that anyone would want to be married in a Ruby Tuesday’s. Of course, what followed was a discussion of why this was necessary in the first place. Our friends detailed out there work on their previous mission field and how they were looking forward to their new work to come.
Then our waitress asked the money question: “Why would anyone want to live in _______________!?!”
I love the husband’s response. “The Lord Jesus has radically transformed our lives and we want to go wherever He tell us to go to tell others about His love for us and for them.”
Amazing. Obviously that took our waitress aback.
Almost as much as what happened next….we invited her to be part of the wedding.
She seemed a little skeptical of what that meant but we told her that we’d do the ceremony right after we ate.
She brought us our salad bar plates and we ate our rehearsal dinner and our reception meal….all at the same time.
After she had tended to her other tables she came back and asked if they were married yet. We told her, “Not yet! We are waiting on you!” We told her to go tend to her other tables and come back when she had a free minute.
About ten minutes later she returned and asked what she should do. We told her just to witness the ceremony and that’s all we needed from her.
I began by praying, welcoming God into Ruby Tuesday’s and to that table so that He could lead us in that marriage ceremony.
After the prayer, our missionary friends took off the rings they were already wearing, gave them to each other and began to confess their vows to each other again, returning their rings to their rightful home.
My associate pastor took pictures and had the waitress sit by me so he could take a picture of her participating as well.
After they both said, “I do” I told my friend he could kiss his bride. By that time, our waitress had a few tears in her eyes. She was absolutely pumped that we had invited her to be a part of the ceremony.
It wasn’t till after the ceremony that we realized that she had told her other tables about what we were doing. One table near by had been watching the whole thing and yelled, “congratulations!” when they saw we were done. Not long after that, the general manager for the store came over and asked if he could take a picture to put in their monthly publication for Ruby Tuesday’s! How cool is that!
I signed their marriage license and made it legal.
We payed the bill and left a big tip.
And I’m pretty sure we gave that waitress a story she’ll never forget.
I eat in that restaurant a lot. Not just because I like Ruby Tuesday’s but because I try to frequent the same places as often as I can so that I can build relationship with the staff who work there in hopes of sharing the Gospel. She had waited on me before. She will probably wait on me again. But the next time I’m pretty sure she’ll remember that I’m the pastor who married the couple at her table that day. One step closer to the Lord.
She may know the Lord already. She may not. That’s not the point. The point is that we are called to live lives on mission. To seize every opportunity to communicate the Gospel with our words and our actions. If we will listen to the Spirit He will give us very creative ways to do so. We simply need to walk in them.
What are the adjustments you can make in your life and routine that will help you communicate the Gospel more effectively? Ask the Spirit. He’ll be faithful to tell you.
Pray for our friends. They are setting out on a new adventure for the Lord in January.
Pray for our waitress. Pray that the Lord works powerfully in her life.
And pray for the harvest. The fields are ripe.