On Christmas morning 1998, Russ Robinson and his family climbed into their motor home and headed from Chicago to Phoenix, Arizona. Russ and his wife took turns driving all day and into the night. While cruising along in the darkness, the headlights suddenly revealed a woman dressed in black, walking in the middle of the road. Russ swerved, but it was too late. The motor home crashed into the woman. Her head hit the windshield, and her body smashed into the right side of the vehicle, tossing her into the ditch.
The woman, who was trying to commit suicide, survived. But Russ was devastated. He phoned a friend in his small group. His wife called someone in her group. The two groups gathered to pray for Russ. He writes:
Their prayer support helped me begin the road to emotional recovery. My community listened during long conversations while I tried to process confusing emotions. When I wrestled with God—seeking to make sense of the experience—people offered reassurance and other help. I needed people to pray with and for me, and I came to know what it was to have someone “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). I experienced how the body of Christ can extend real, personal hands to someone in pain.
You need to invest in community today so you can reap the benefits during tomorrow’s seasons of deprivation and loss.
—Based on Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson, Building a Church of Small Groups (Zondervan, 2001)
Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 307–308.