"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." -- John 13:35
This past week, several members of our church had the opportunity to bear fruit. One member of our church lost her mother to suicide, and another refused to go home after church because of an apparently abusive relationship with her spouse.
Heather and I had the opportunity to visit with the grieving family, and we took them some groceries and things. I learned that the little things that get overlooked are sometimes the most important things to have. Like coffee filters and plastic spoons. When you are grieving a lost loved one, NOBODY wants to wash dishes. NOBODY wants to go to the store to pick up a gallon of milk. Things like soft drinks and cereal and paper plates and listening and prayer are the best ways to minister to hurting believers. I'm thankful for the opportunity to love my brother and sister during this hard time, and I am thankful for the other members of our church who participated as well.
On the completely other end of the spectrum, several other members of our church were able to share the gospel and pray with a man who clearly is frustrated and angry with life. The lady who refused to go home found a safe house, and before the afternoon was over the husband had made several phone calls to different members of our church trying to locate his wife. One member graciously handled his angry and profanity-filled conversation, and then called our pastor.
Our pastor called the husband and did a very good job of handling the situation. We owed his family a box of food from Angel Food Ministries, and we made plans to bring it by their home after church. We anticipated dropping off the food and leaving, but he invited us in so he could share his side of the story. Ultimately, I'm sure the truth lies somewhere between the husband's and the wife's different sides of the story. We wanted to make clear, however, that our desire was to minister to his entire family, not separate it. I think he understood that we wanted the best for both him and his wife, and he gave us the opportunity to pray with him.
After church last night, and before we left for our visit with the husband, I asked our pastor if he thought the "ministry fatigue" we were feeling was at all like the way the disciples must have felt in Mark 6:30-44. But in the very same passage, Jesus, despite their fatigue, commanded them, "You give them something to eat." Our ministry is never over.
So, I am praying that God will bring comfort and peace to one family, and spiritual life to the other. And I pray that he continues to teach us to love.