Simple gestures can lead to a lifetime of friendship

By Pastor Ryan Stockstrom

Harvest Fellowship Church

It was a hot Turkey Day’s Family Night on the Lawn, in 2022, when I met Chris and shook his hand. He was enjoying watching his daughter on one of our bouncy house inflatables, and simply grateful to have a fun event for his kids to enjoy. Little did Chris or I know of what was to come of our handshake that night.  

When Chris attended church with his family soon after that I could tell that Chris was a sincere and hard working person. He began to attend regularly, and after some time joined our Next Steps class- a class where we get to know each other deeper, learn about the church’s beliefs and each other’s giftings, and have the opportunity to become members. It’s kind of a class that says, “welcome to the family.”

Little did we know that God had a bigger “family” situation He was working on for Chris. In talking a little bit with Chris before class began; he was feeling a little down. He said, “‘I’m so thankful for all that God has given me; a great job, skills and abilities, a beautiful wife and kids,’ but, ‘I still feel alone.’ I have no family.”  

What Chris was referring to is the fact that he had no extended family in his life. His mom and step-dad had tragically died in recent years. He didn’t know any other relatives whom he could connect with. From his perspective, his last name, being ‘Meckle’, was confined to his and his kid’s lives. 

Then a grand coincidence happened.  

Or as I like to call it, A ‘God-Incidence’ happened.  

When we begin Next Steps, we always ask people to write down their email for us as I try to interact with the class between meetings.  

Well, somehow, two digits of the email got mixed up, and I sent an email to another ‘CMeckle’.  The ‘CMeckle’ that wrote me back was a ‘Cole’ Meckle who is a Lutheran minister in Washington State.  

He wrote me back saying something to the effect of “Hey, you have the wrong Meckle here, but it sounds like this is a good class, and if the person you are writing is a Meckle; there’s a good chance we are related.”  

Having the talk with Chris about his lack of extended family fresh on my mind, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I quickly and excitedly texted Chris.  

Chris reached out to Cole in short order. In the midst of their conversation, Chris started talking about how he didn’t know much about his biological dad, but he knew he was a bull rider.  

Cole said, “Chris, I believe I have your dad’s trophies in this very room…and, I know that your dad is alive, and I can connect you with him.”  

When Chris told me this over the phone my jaw dropped open.  

A God-Incidence….even as Chris was taking part in a class to connect with his church family; God was on the move connecting Chris with his lost extended family. As “Our Father,” He is just that good.  

And sometimes, all we have to do is make a simple connection. Give a handshake; serve a shift at a bouncy house; sit by someone and chat about their life; just love people in a real way. God is at work doing the rest; because He really, really, loves you.