Last week I wrote an article of reflection on pastoral care of the community. I shared with a friend who was inspired by it, that I would write a series of posts on that ministry, and how it touched peoples lives. Though this story is true, I am deliberately changing the names of the people concerned and the work setting of some of the people in this story.
I have a friend who is a natural evangelist. He is able to strike up conversations about God with friends and strangers with ease. He has the gift to be able to communicate the need for Jesus in a few conversations; a gift that I have been in awe of. However, he had a mutual friend, who when ever he would mention God, Jesus, etc, would fire up, and say, “Stop talking about it to me; if you don’t, I am going to walk out!”
I had made some flyers and posters up about the suicide awareness and prevention network we were setting up, and was approaching businesses for permission to put the posters on their notice board. The friend of my mate worked at one of these businesses and not only gave me permission to post them up; but, quietly confided in me that they needed to get involved in this, as her own partner had taken his life, while she was pregnant.
I was stunned at the revelation. It was dark secret of false guilt and shame that she had been carrying for many years. And I told her that we would be glad to help her out, any way we could. During the course of events, we worked alongside some key people from Life Line; who ran a support group for those bereaved by suicide. And she joined that group.
Fast forward to the end of 2007, I had been in hospital for a few months from a debilitating sickness. And I attended a local community event. She was there, she came over to me, and gave me a huge bear hug, and said to me:
“Craig, thank you for what you did. I have done the Alpha Course, I have become a Christian, and I am getting baptized next week. I can’t tell you the lightness that is in my heart, and how much of the burden and the darkness of those horrible days have gone.”
Our communities are full of people carrying hurt, shame, pain, anger, and confusion. Jesus sent his disciples out to heal the sick. He is calling us to do likewise today – to go into our communities, scratch the itch where they are itching. To bring healing to the areas of life that need healing – so like the leper who was healed, and came back to worship Jesus, our communities can do the same.