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When I first arrived at this little church in Billings, Missouri I was anxious.

I was told that, in this town of around 1,000 people, 80% of the congregants were Trump supporters, all of them were white, and the majority of them were retired. More progressive members of the church warned me that those in attendance on Sunday might not be receptive to my Reflection piece – where I was to speak passionately about my time as a GMI in Hungary working with vulnerable people like refugees and the Roma population.

But I took a chance, trusting that I was called to that congregation for a reason, and I stood firmly at the front of the sanctuary on Sunday morning and spoke my truth and told my story. To my surprise, I saw heads nodding and smiles of encouragement.

Following the service was a potluck where I had an informal Q & A with folks. Those in attendance asked poignant and detailed questions, and were genuinely interested in my responses. Some folks had doubts about my work, and me, but they engaged in an incredible dialogue with me and voiced their concerns and reservations – giving me the opportunity to quell their fears and speak to my experiences in the field.

When the time came for me to leave the congregation I got more hugs than I could count and many people spoke to me of their desire to stay in touch as I continue my work with the UCC.

This little church took me by surprise this weekend.

I was nervous, not knowing what kind of welcome I would receive or if folks there would even HEAR what I had to say – but they did.. and who knows what kind of ripple effects it will have.