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Jun23WedShe taught me an important lesson, both for my faith and my life. June 23, 2021 by Joyce Starr Macias
I watched the elderly woman step off the bus, gripping the handrail tightly as she balanced a large canvas bag with the other hand. I was too far away to help her but close enough to notice that her midcalf length skirt didn’t quite cover the prosthesis that substituted for her right leg.
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She was a retired missionary who did nursing-home visitation for my church, and I was a new Christian who was eager to serve God. I was happy, although a little apprehensive, when she invited me to go to one of the services with her
“It’s so easy, and two or three others will join us,” she told me. “You can pass out the song sheets, and we’ll sing a few familiar hymns. I’ll give a short message from the Bible, and then we’ll visit some rooms.”
It didn’t sound simple to me. Though I was 30 years old, I had no church background at all. The “familiar hymns” that everybody else knew were brand-new to me.
I was sure I’d enjoy helping during the service, but the thought of talking to residents in their rooms scared me to death.
The woman went with me the first two or three times and introduced me to residents she already knew. But a few minutes later, she gave me a smile, handed me some Christian literature and pointed down the hall.
“Don’t forget to pray before you go into each room,” she counselled. And then she was gone.
I prayed all right, but I prayed that every resident I visited would be sound asleep.
That happened at the first room. One bed was empty, and the woman in the other one was out like a light. Breathing a sigh of relief, I placed a pamphlet on each nightstand and tiptoed out quietly.
Not so in the next room. A heavyset man with a shock of white hair was very much awake.
“Well, who are you?” he asked gruffly as I walked in.
I told him I was part of the group that held weekly Christian services at the facility.
“Christian, huh?” he said. “Well, I’m Jewish.”
I stuttered a bit as I wondered what I’d say. But I didn’t need to worry since he started talking again right away.
“So you’re a Christian, eh?” he began. “What do you know about the Old Testament?”
Now I really started stuttering.
“Not much,” I admitted. I explained that I was new at all this because I had become a Christian just a few weeks earlier.
“Right now, I’m reading the New Testament for the first time. But I’m sure I’ll get to the Old Testament soon,” I said.
“Don’t you know that the Jesus you believe in was Jewish? The New Testament wasn’t even written back in His time,” he growled. “You come back and see me after you learn what’s in the Old Testament.”
Muttering something like, “God bless you, sir,” I rushed into the hall, feeling like a total failure. I don’t think I even left him anything to read.
Never Give Up
I was nearly in tears as I told my mentor what a terrible job I’d done. But, instead of scolding, she spoke words of comfort and encouraged me to keep coming back.
“Don’t quit when God is calling you to serve Him,” she said. “Trust in Him, keep studying your Bible and ask Him to teach you what you need to know.”
I took the Jewish man’s advice and began to immerse myself in my Bible, devouring it every day in addition to doing Sunday school lessons and attending services every time the church door was open.
Although I kept going to the nursing home service, I purposely avoided the Jewish man’s room. And when I finally tried to visit him again, he wasn’t there. I wasn’t too surprised at that since he was able to get around on a walker and had friends and family who often took him out. But due to my husband’s job change, I moved to another town a few months later without ever seeing the Jewish man again.
However, his challenge and my mentor’s support gave me the encouragement I needed to continue visiting care facilities in other towns. At one point, I led weekly services in three different facilities and wasn’t scared at all to chat with the residents at the services or in their rooms.
I find it amazing that God can take the little bit we offer Him and miraculously grow it into enough to help meet the needs of others.
It reminds me of the miracle Jesus performed when He fed 5,000 men and their families by multiplying a young boy’s small offering of just five barley loaves and two fish.
Luke 9:16-17 records what Jesus did in this way: “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied.” The leftover pieces filled 12 baskets.
It was God’s same miracle-working power that enabled a brand-new Christian and a physically challenged retired missionary to touch people’s hearts with a message of hope. And He is still doing the same thing for those who will persevere in whatever task He leads them to perform.
As my mentor told me, “Don’t quit when God is calling you to serve Him.”
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