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We Really Do Need Each Other
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Pastor and author Reuben Welch’s popular speaking and writing style has spanned more than four decades and several generations. He and his wife Mary Jo (1924-2008), pastored congregations in Hawaii, Arizona and California before going to Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University) to teach. Now 90, Dr. Welch has been in demand as a camp meeting preacher/teacher, retreat speaker and campus revival speaker for 45 years or more. He is also the author of more than 10 books, including the well-known volume We Really Do Need Each Other, from which the inspiring passage below is taken.


At school a few years ago
there was a summer school course in "Group and Interpersonal Relations."
      About a dozen people took the class
                            and at the end of it
              they decided they wanted to do something
                                                           together
              as kind of closing to the class.
                              You know,
                                        they had come to know each other,
                                        and to share each,
                                        and really be personal to each other
                                        and break down walls
                                        and so forth —
                           so they decided to get together and take a hike up to Hennigar Flats.

Now Hennigar Flats is about three miles
       up the side of the mountain behind the campus
               and it takes about an hour and a half
                         for anyone to make the hike.

     So they set the day
               and made the sandwiches
               and made the chocolate
               and brought the cold drinks
               and the back packs
               and they got all gathered up for the safari
               and they started up the mountain —
                                             together.

But it wasn't long until
        the strong, stalwart ones were up in front and
                    the other ones were back in the middle and
                             way back at the end of the line
            was a girl named Jane —
                          who was, you might say,
                                            out of shape.

At the front was Don —
                 a big, strong, former paratrooper.
                            He and some others — the strong ones —
                                       were up in front and
                                the weak ones were back and
                                             way in the back
                                                    was Jane.
And Don said —
  it was he who told me the story
           he looked back a couple of switchbacks
                                                      and saw Jane
                   and the Lord told him
                               that he had just better go back
                                                   and walk with her.
That's kind of hard on him because he has a need to be
                                                                     first.


But he went down
                    and started walking with Jane
                    and the people in the level above called down,
                                                                  "Come on up.
                                                                  It's great up here."
                  And Jane yelled, "I don't think I can make it."
                                         And they hollored, "Yeah, you can.
                                                                           Try harder, come on up."
                                And every time they called to her
                                                         down went her own sense of worth
                                                         down went her own sense of value —
                                                                              "I can't make it."
                                                 "Oh, Yeah, you can. Come on."

So the strong went on ahead
       and the weak hung behind
                   and here was Jane
                               and she never made it up to the top.


Now, look what you have.
         You have a group —
                               we know each other
                               we like each other
                               we want to do this together
                               let's go to Hennigar Flats together.
                    But before long, you have divided
                              the strong and the weak
                              the haves and have-nots
                              and the ables and the unables.
                    So what started out as a group
                                  has now become a fragmented collection.

And so the strong say,
                                             "You can do it."
And the weak say,
                                             "No, I can't."
And so the strong say,
                                             "Try harder" —
                                                      whch is a big help.
        That's a big help.
                               And she didn't make it.

Thankfully, that's not the last chapter.
      They must have learned their lessons
           because they decided that was no way
                  to end the fellowship of that class
                         and they got together and decided
                             to do it again.
                  But they made some new rules —
                                                 it was everybody go
                                                 or nobody go
                                                 and they were all going
                                                                          together.

So they set the day
                         and made the sandwiches
                         and made the chocolate
                         and brought the cold drinks
                         and the backpacks
                         and they got all gathered up for the safari,
                         and they started up the mountain.

It took them four hours to make it to the top,
                         and the water was all gone
                         and the cold drinks were all gone
                         and the sandwiches were all gone
                         and the chocolate was all gone
                         and the backpacks were empty
                                                 but they all made it
                                                                   together.

Let me share with you
         the thing that this real life parable
                has been saying to me —
                      we have got to go together.

Christian fellowship is no place
                        for get in or get out —
                                            it's get in,
                                                  get in.
            And if you need to slow down —
                                   you slow down.

That's why it's good for us to read Scripture
             and sing hymns together —
                          the slow folk have to speed up
                               and the fast folks have to slow down
                               and we have to do it together.

I know, don't you,
         that it is God's intention that we go together as a body.
   It doesn't help much for those who have made it
                            to say to us weaklings —
                                                             "Try harder.
                                                              See, I've done it,
                                                              so you can make it."
  That makes me think of some dear old grandmother
      whose children are all gone,
           who spends all day praying
                 and listening to holy records,
        saying to a young mother
             going out of her mind
                  with little kids and noise —
                                 "Oh, honey, just get alone with God."
                     Yeah, thanks a lot. You can't even get alone in the bathroom anymore.

You know something —
                     we're all just people who need each other.
               We're all learning
                     and we've all got a long journey ahead of us.
               We're got to go together
                     and if it takes us until Jesus comes
                                we better stay together
                                        we better help each other.
And I dare say
                 that by the time we get there
                 all the sandwiches will be gone
                 and all the water will be gone
                 and all the backpacks will be empty.
        But no matter how long it takes us
                         we've got to go together.
      Because that's how it is
                  in the body of Christ.
                                         It's all of us
                                                    in love
                                                    in care
                                                    in support
                                                    in mutuality —
                                                    we really do need each other.
                                                                         Let's pray.

Oh Lord Jesus,
           bring us together,
                     keep us together
                                          seeing,
                                          hearing,
                                          aware,
                                          sensitive.
                   We need to look at our children
                                   and listen to our parents
                                            and be sensitive to each other
                                                             and aware of each other.
                         Teach us to know that it's Thy will
                                                              that we go together.
                         Teach us to know that it's not
                                                                    our mutualities
                                                                    and congenialities
                                                                                  that bind us —
                                                        it's the life of Jesus Christ
                                                                                that binds us —
                                                                              and so we belong together
                                                                                       and we must go together.
                                                                                                               Amen.



— Reuben Welch