Several years ago I went to Penn Center for Rehab to observe and encourage the ACTS Nursing Home Ministry leaders and workers. I did not go to preach. I did not go to lead music. As Director of Mercy Ministries my purpose in going was solely to encourage others and, if necessary, hold a Bible and songbook, for a resident.
I entered the meeting room which was filling with residents. Some walked in independent of help, some used canes or walkers and others in wheelchairs were brought in. One of residents at our worship service was sitting alone, so I pulled up a chair and sat next to her. I’ll call her Hope. Hope was all bent over in her wheelchair and she was moaning as if in pain. I introduced myself, but there was no response, only the continued low moaning. I looked over at her. Her fingers were gnarled and her facial expression showed anguish. It was an awkward situation for me. I had no idea what to do except to cry out to God silently in prayer for her. And so I did just that. Soon the worship leader began his sermon, Hope continued in her anguish, and I continued praying and holding the extra-large print Bible while occasionally glancing at her, hunched over and appearing so forlorn.
Following the sermon, we sang the hymn "Amazing Grace," and I held the large print songbook. Hope didn’t sing. When the worship leader said, "Let’s sing the first verse again," God prompted me to place my hand on hers. There was no immediate response, although she seemed less agitated than before. As I held the songbook between us, I spoke gently the words of the hymn. Slowly I said, "Amazing Grace / how sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me…"
As I spoke a wonderful thing happened. Hope's lips began to move, her moaning ceased, and in very low tones she sang ever so softly, "I once was lost / but now am found / was blind / but now I see." As she sang her body began to straighten up, the lines of anguish vanished and there was a delightful glow on her face. It was like she remembered—from very long ago—the joy, the comfort, and the satisfaction of knowing she was saved from the wretched state the hymn spoke about. She then sang all the verses squeezing my hand every so often.
It was such a transformation in her—and in me, too. I hadn't done anything except show up. Yes, I offered a gentle touch and softly spoken words. But, God did the work. I left and said good-bye, thankful to be there. What did I do again? I did nothing. I showed up and God worked through me. Christian service is that simple. It is simple because it is nothing we do. It comes through the Holy Spirit working in us as we make ourselves available to him. Christian service is rooted in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It doesn’t distinguish between big and small—in fact, there is no small service in God's economy. Christian service is a lifestyle, an attitude of thanks to God for his grace and eternal hope.
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