Leonard came in late followed by his group home but he was too excited to wait.  We were taking up the offering so his outburst wasn’t disruptive.  “Linda, this is my brother.”  Leonard pointed to a stranger who had followed him into the service.

Of course, I knew that Leonard had no family.  He had been a ward of the state most of his life.  His story had been lost years ago; but everyone in his small hometown is protective of this young man who was raised in a group home.  He is a large African-American man.  He wears snake-skinned cowboy boots and a serious look on his face.  He  has the largest rodeo belt buckle I’ve ever seen and a persuasive bear hug. 

Wanting to help speed things along, I moved to the back of the chapel to usher everyone to their seats.  The handsome man dressed in an expensive, tailored sports coat, extended his hand and said, “I’m Leonard’s brother.”  His wife was also dressed in a smart casual suit that did not come from Wal-Mart.

Actually, this didn’t seem unusual.  Many times families will adopt the members of our community who are without relatives.  They may refer to themselves as a brother or sister.  Of course, my curiosity was peaked.  Could this really be Leonard’s brother?

After the worship, I went to the small cluster of family that had gathered in the back of the room.  “Are you really Leonard’s brother?”  I asked.

“Yes!”  the brother grinned, glowing.  “He also has five sisters.  We have been looking for him for 35 years.  I can’t believe that we found him.”

While the family had scoured public records and searched the Internet for years, “I just Googled his name one more time and it came up.”  Even though they live in another state, they own a condo in a nearby city so they came down to investigate.  “Leonard looks and acts exactly like one of our sisters.  There is no doubt he is our brother.”

Leonard became a ward of the state when his father left the family of seven children.  Baby Leonard was taken from his mother because the state felt that they would be able to take care of him better than she would.  “Our mother was always going to the neighboring town where Leonard lived.  We never knew why she was coming.  Now we realize that she was coming to visit Leonard.”  After a few years, the mother died.  The younger children went to live with the oldest sister in another state  but they never stopped trying to find their brother, Leonard.

AND they have prayed for him all these years.  “We are all Christians.  One sister is a pastor and another sister is married to a pastor,”  the brother told me. 

I could not help but weep when I told my Sunday Special Gathering  about the reunion.  “Don’t ever imagine that God has forgotten you,” I told our members.   “There were six people praying for Leonard for 35 years when he thought that he had no one who cared for him.”

Sometimes the fact that God knows every hair on my head can get a bit impersonal.  However, Leonard has a brother and five sisters.  That is family.  Thank God for Leonard’s family.  That’s a personal touch from a living, loving God.

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