Reading obituaries has always been interesting to me, as long as it is not mine. One recent obituary in the Fort Bend Herald spoke of an 89-year-old native Texan named Jerry. He was married for over 61 years and had numerous children and grandchildren. Jerry was born and raised in Stranger, Texas, and attended a single-room schoolhouse.
Where’s Stranger? On a map, Stranger is located southeast of Waco, near Marlin. Originally known as Blue Ridge, the town was settled around 1840. It received a name change in 1879 when the Post Office decided to call it “Stranger.” The government occasionally does some, uh, strange things, but that’s another rant.
The population was never more than 200, but the people were known to be friendly, industrious, and quite religious. At one time there were four churches serving this small community. Built around 1840, Shady Grove church was the first. It was a one-room facility that was also used as the community school.
Local historians recount that Sunday school was very important to the Stranger churches. Many of the civic and governmental leaders were involved in teaching Bible classes and serving on the church boards. There was common agreement that the church was highly regarded and greatly needed in the community.
One story that has been passed down over the years provides a dynamic spiritual truth. In the early 1870s, the area was hit by a terrible drought. Someone suggested meeting at the church and having a day of prayer to ask the Lord to send rain. Packing their lunches, people came from all over the region.
They prayed all morning and afternoon, when they noticed that the sky was becoming cloudy. Suddenly, a deluge began to fall from the sky and the local creeks and gullies quickly filled with welcome rainwater. The situation became so dangerous that everyone stayed the night at the church because the way home was too hazardous.
The only person to bring an umbrella was the oldest member of the flock. She alone, truly expected God to answer prayer. As they sat in the church with the storm churning outside, she told the younger members that the way to receive an answer to prayer was to ask in faith and then be ready for the answer to come. A good word for today, too!
Remember 1 John 5:14-15 NLT, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
The Stranger people learned a familiar truth - God answers prayer, so get ready!