Six days after my 18th birthday, my high school sweetheart and I fled to Wise, Virginia, to be wed — much to the shock of my family. I had always been a (mostly) obedient kid; it was an out-of-the-box move.

The first week, I declared to my new groom that I didn’t have to go to church anymore if I didn’t want to.

We skipped one week.

My newly beloved had been saved a few months before our elopement, praise the Lord. His church, Sidney Missionary Baptist Church, welcomed me with open arms.

A few months into our married life, a revival was scheduled at Sidney Church. The evangelist, Brother Thurmond Coleman from Louisville, would change our lives forever.

As is often the custom in the mountains, the older ladies of the church had the visiting preacher over for supper before services. Brother Thurmond and his wife were there, but they also invited this young, newly married couple in the church. Everybody knew I couldn’t cook, so we made the circuit with them! We trekked from house to house each evening, dining on delicious homemade meals and warm-hearted fellowship.

God was definitely at work during those special suppers. Brother Thurmond became my beloved’s mentor.

This week, we have been in revival at Fitzpatrick. Last Sunday morning, I bustled around the kitchen before the 8 a.m. service and pondered how the years have passed. Now, I am one of those older women serving dinner to the evangelist! I remembered all the good cooks at different churches who blessed me and my beloved. This day, we were having pot roast, potatoes and carrots. Peggy King’s slightly famous Fresh Apple Cake was for dessert. Then, to the 11 o’clock service, our precious friend, Sandy Brown, came carrying a Cream Puff Cake — our favorite from 20 years ago! What a sweet treat! When they tasted it, their eyes rolled back in their heads!

I’ve always heard about “entertaining angels unaware” from Hebrews 13:2. I’m pretty sure back in 1981 nobody thought WE were angels, just some young kids starting out. But they had mercy AND good food!

Time has moved on; those young kids have grown, and our roles have changed. Over the last 20-plus years, my beloved has been a pastor and many a preacher has shared our table. What precious times for us!

Before, during and after a meal is enjoyed, there is always a time of telling stories. My beloved and I love to hear how people came to know Jesus, how they met their spouse, how they ended up in ministry (when applicable) AND Kentucky — if they’re not originally from the mountains … lots of questions. When people share their story, you find out so much about them! You understand them a little better and are often stirred by what they have shared.

We are all busy these days, headed somewhere in a big hurry, but if you think about it, might there be someone God wants you to encourage over dinner or supper? You don’t have to cook, either! Tonight we supped at Billy Ray’s! We laughed hard and listened well as others talked. Watch for ways to connect with people around you through a meal, and then start asking questions. You may be amazed at what you learn! The fellowship may be sweeter than dessert!

Dawn Reed writes a weekly column for HD Media. She can be contacted at preacherswife7@yahoo.com.