Suddenly my own problems or needs don't seem so insignificant ...
Yesterday, I finally joined my wife, Angela, in helping out with our church's food outreach ministry, and it was really an eye opening experience, especially when the people started coming in to get their boxes of food. I helped her by praying for the people when they came into the prayer room; let me tell you this: some of the prayer needs these needy people had nearly made me cry.
There was a lady there who needed prayer because her husband was abusing her physically: you could see the telltale bruises on her arms and face; she was physically shaking: I could feel her body trembling as I put my hand upon her shoulder. She had two little boys, ages 2 and 5, with her; the little boys looked just as scared as their mother.
Another lady came for prayer because her grandson had been found dead the day before. Apparently the boy (aged 13) had been bullied because he was gay. He decided he couldn't deal with it anymore, so he committed suicide ... and it was the grandmother who had found him on the floor of his bedroom. The boy hung himself. As you can imagine, the woman was distraught.
A man came up to me for prayer because his son, aged 5 months, had been undergoing extensive testing, and yesterday, the doctor told them the news that their son had Canavan disease, a fatal neuro-degenerative disorder. The boy wouldn't live past the age of four years ... that is, if he was lucky. The boy would lose one developmental skill after another; eventually he would become wheelchair-bound and unable to do anything for himself. The man was sobbing as he poured out his story; it broke my heart.
A young girl, aged 11, came up to me to ask me to pray for her family. The family wasn't saved, she said, and the parents were in the middle of getting a divorce. She was scared that she would end up living with her dad because her dad had a known problem with alcoholism and was known to do lewd acts with her sisters; she didn't want to have that happening to her.
Still another woman came for prayer because she was on the verge of losing her house due to foreclosure and she was scared that she would end up on the streets, homeless and destitute. (The woman had a good job: she worked for a law firm. She was picking up food for her elderly homebound mother who had Alzheimer's; she was her caretaker.)
And then there was an eight year old boy who wanted prayer because he had no friends. The boy was autistic, according to his mother, and he was teased by all of the children at his school. I told the child he wasn't alone because Jesus was with him. He looked at me directly in the eyes and wailed, "Then how come I still feel all alone?" as big tears bubbled in his eyes and rolled down his thin cheeks. All I could do was hug him and minister to his shattered spirit and try to console the mother, who was as upset as her son about what was going on with him.
I couldn't stop talking about Angel Food as Angela and I headed out to eat after church. I knew I had problems with finding a job and money was tight, but God, somehow, always provided for our needs. Our needs were nothing compared to the people I'd spoken to (or prayed for). At least we had children who were healthy, had a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, and had a close, tight-knit family. And our children were doing well in school and were being brought up in a Christian environment.
The people we prayed for had none of this. Abuse, sickness/disease, family strife, possible job and home loss, and death marked the lives of the people we'd ministered to yesterday at our church. They had no hope; we, at least, had the love and provision of a loving Saviour who would see to all our needs.
All we had to do was reach out in Christ-like love to some hurting people and provide them with food and hope. Angela has been involved with Angel Food for the past year and a half; yesterday was my first time. I hadn't participated in Angel Food because I usually slept in (depressed, I guess, about my not being able to find work). Angela had talked me into going with her, and I finally relented, so I went.
Maybe it was a good thing because I ended up getting ministered to as well. I felt better about myself, and we got a box of food as well, to help us through the month, until Angela got her disability check (in a few days, on Tuesday).
I told Angela I wanted to do Angel Food again next month. She was as pleased as punch. Maybe it will end up being one of the best possible things that I can do for myself (and my wife). My wife doesn't work because she gets Social Security disability every month; she has a lot of physical problems, as she was born with congenital dwarfism. Yet she is one of the strongest, most loving Christian women I know; nothing can shake her rock-solid faith!
Who knows what will happen when I participate in this ministry?? We might very well end up getting blessed in ways that we never even imagined!!
For more information: www.angelfoodministries.com.