Corney Banister: Uber Driver, Evangelist, Friend.
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“From the Hart” Devotional for Oct. 5, 2023
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
Recently, a first-time visitor came into church by the name of Gloria. I always like to ask people what brought them in. I get some great answers: I pass the church when walking my dog, a friend told me about your church, I have seen food distribution signs and figured you were doing good things, I am going through something and I thought I needed to be in church, I am new in town, and I found you on the internet.
But a few Sundays ago, the response was one I hadn’t heard before. When I asked Gloria this question, she smiled and told me that her Uber driver had told her about us. Of course, as soon as she said that I knew exactly who her Uber driver had been – Corney Banister! Because evangelism isn’t just what Corney does, it’s who he is.
If you’ve ever had an Uber ride from Corney, you know that he practices great hospitality. His car is like a church on wheels —Christian music playing on the radio, snacks in the lobby (or back seat), and conversation that often seems to find its way back to Jesus.
Later that Sunday evening, I ran into Gloria at our multi-cultural potluck and had the chance to chat with her some more. Gloria told me more about this Uber ride with Corney. She said that the music he was playing (shout out to Chalmer Harper and SOS radio!) sparked a conversation about church. Of course, Corny was quick to share how great his church is. He even gave her a church business card (yes, he keeps those in his car!) and invited her to stop by and see how she liked it. All that in one short car ride.
As great as Corney is (and yes, he’s pretty great!), all of his efforts would have been in vain were not for the rest of the church. What if no-one bothered to greet her and welcome her when she showed up at our door? What if no-one had taken the time to notice that she was new and introduce themselves? What if no-one had bothered to sit with Gloria when she showed up for the potluck and taken the time to get to know her? What if Pastor David didn’t remind us regularly about what the book of Matthew tells us about making disciples and loving others?
This past Sunday, Gloria signed up to be a part of our upcoming community group where I know she will experience the love of God and the hospitality of Desert Spring Church in a smaller group setting. I am certain that she will be blessed by both the group facilitators and participants. And I have no doubt that she will be a great blessing to her group and to any Desert Spring ministry that she participates in — all because one Uber driver took the time to talk to her about Jesus! Thanks be to God!
Some things for you to consider this week:
The mission of the Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, thus seeking the fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in the world.
Who was it that first brought you to the Methodist Church and what specific actions did they take that got you to church in the first place?
What actions do you take to fulfill this mission on a regular basis?
What other actions might you be able to take that you haven’t done for a while?
Help me to be aware of the opportunities that present themselves for me to extend a prayer, a kind word, or an invitation to others throughout this week. Let me recognize those around me (friends, family, and strangers) most in need of the love and hope that come from having a relationship with you. And let me invite them into our family.