John doesn’t go to Wednesday night church. He likes Sunday morning church well enough, but standing and singing aren’t his thing. I take the kids to church on Wednesday nights for their K-Rock classes, and I really enjoy the services. John has been in therapy every Wednesday night for the last several months for his neck, back and arm, but he couldn’t get an appointment for Wednesday, March 4th. I invited him to church, but he wanted to close up the tackle store to give the guys a break.
When John texted Justin, our store manager, and told him that he didn’t have therapy, Justin told him to stay home and spend time with his family. Little did he know, that would mean going to church with us too. I was excited, but I knew he wasn’t, so we sweetened the deal with dinner at La Botana Mexican before church. And a lovely time was had by all.
When we got to service, we realized they were doing baptisms that night. There was a lot of activity with people getting ready for the service. One family stood out to us, as the dad, mom and daughter were all wearing Superman t-shirts. We both wondered if they knew Roy Townsend’s family, as Superman t-shirts had come to mean “Justin Townsend” to everyone who knew them (more on that below).
About an hour into the service, it was time for this family to be baptized. Instead of telling you their story, I’m going to let them tell it:
“Hi, my name is John, this is my wife Heidi, my 13 year old daughter Natalia and my son Antonios. About the last week we’ve been having conversations with my daughter regarding God Himself and she’s had a lot of questions like most 13 year olds do. And one of those questions was how do you know when God speaks to you? And I told her that as you grow in your faith and you have a personal relationship with God and your arms are open and you’re receptive to Him, you’ll know when He speaks.
Unfortunately, about 6 months ago, one of her classmates passed away after a year battle with cancer. The young man’s name was Justin. This symbol that we’re wearing here tonight was a symbol that his family had for him in that struggle. So, we’ve always had the name Justin and Superman in our head.
About a month ago we came here to Kensington and we watched the baptism. And it was a young strong man who got up on stage. He walks up, he’s got a Superman shirt on, he’s vibrant and excited about his journey that he’s going to take on with God and he says his name is Justin. At that moment, it spoke to my daughter. She spoke to her mother afterwards and explained to her that she thinks that God spoke to her.
What’s more amazing is God brings people, Christians, together to bring us to that point and be an example. What’s even more amazing is when we walked in this evening, that man Justin was standing there, which we never met. And it’s this man right here (points to him down front and everyone claps). And I want to just say thank you for your testimony. We all love you. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. So, God bless you.”
As we were walking out of church to get the kids from K-Rock upstairs, the “young strong man” Justin was outside the auditorium. I asked him, “Are you Justin?” and then “Superman” John walked up. I introduced John to my John, telling him that John had worked for Roy Townsend (Justin’s father) for years. But I was crying at that point, as John wouldn’t have been there if our store manager, Justin, hadn’t told him to stay home and spend time with his family. Thank you, Justin!
If you’d like to watch the service for yourself (you don’t have to stand and sing if you don’t want to), click here: First Wednesday
Justin Townsend’s 14th birthday would have been March 7th. Roy wrote the most beautiful letter to his son on his Caring Bridge journal, which I just read tonight (and I would encourage you to do the same – click the red words above). Love this part:
“As you know, several of us went to the hockey game last night. We found it ironic that the only two goals scored by the “Red Wings” were scored by “Justin” Abdelkader.”