Around late 2006 – early 2007 I was involved in setting up a suicide awareness and prevention network with local churches across the Wollondilly Shire.
We held a series of public sessions about suicide prevention and awareness, as well as holding two memorial services to remember the lives of those lost to suicide. We held one service at Warragamba Anglican Church and the other was at Picton Community hall.
At the end of the service at Picton, I was talking to a lady and asked her how she found the service, and if it was too much for her. She looked at me, took my coffee from my hands. Placed hers and mine on the bench, and then tightly gripped my wrists with her hands, looked me in the eyes and said;
“Craig, 12 years ago our son took his life. Our family had been heavily involved with a church since our kids were born. The Sunday after our son took his life, the preacher stood up and spoke about how all who take their lives are going to hell. My husband stood up, took my and our daughter by the hand and walked out of the church. The church blackbanned us for being back slidden, and no one pastorally cared for us. Craig…I have always believed in Jesus, and that Jesus loves us, has forgiven us. My husband and I have often spoken about going back to church…but the pain, of being rejected has been too much.
She continued…looking me in my eyes, tightly gripping my wrists, her nails biting into them. “Craig, you have brought me tremendous hope, a measure of joy, and a whole lot of peace – in knowing that the church does care…that God’s people do care. And that now, my husband and I can truly find a church that cares. Thank you!”
I walked out of that hall that afternoon, reflecting on that encounter, looked up to the heavens and prayed “Lord, even if this whole thing was just for that one person; it was worth it!”