Time was set aside last Friday for an annual physical exam. When one is past 50, doctors like to do a lot of poking around.

The hour spent in the waiting room was a window into the world of others. All around me were African-American patients with diabetes.

Mercer University Medical School received a $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a 5-year church-based diabetes prevention/translation program. (This topic was added to my story list)

My physician, Dr. Paul Seale, a former Baptist missionary to the Philippines, talked with me about the study (while poking around) and introduced me to his colleague, Dr. John Boltri, who is directing the program.

Diabetes is a serious problem among African Americans — and greasy church dinners don’t help much. So the program is being taken to the churches in order to provide diabetes education and treatment.

In the waiting room, I was inspired by the shared journeys and encouragement of those tackling this disease.

“You better exercise,” one chubby woman said to a chubby man sitting nearby.

“Eat baked fish, not fried,” said another.

A sense of community developed among these persons. It was spontaneous.

But whether community is planned or “just happens,” it certainly feels good. It is the sense that one is not alone on the journey of life — and that someone really does care.

Making community is an important part of what it means to be church. We can do it well — or watch it pop up somewhere else.

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