Monday, July 6, 2015

Death, Dying, Serving
You evil person, how can you say you promote the Kingdom of God? What has your ministry really done to help someone? Why does your ministry ask for money? These three are but three of many questions I am often asked but yesterday was another example of how effective this ministry is. I must first state emphatically, the ministries I am part of, The Virtual Pew and Mosaic Wichita are not my ministries, they are ministries God has called me to and ministries that are His, not mine. They are ministries I have been blessed to see fruit from, not always the kind you hear about on television but the kind that if you step back, think about; you will realize it is a ministry that is different and is in fact, making a difference.

This last weekend I commented on social media about how lonely it is being in ministry. I have never lived close to my family, other than my immediate family since my mid-teen years for any extended period of time. There have been moments, but in the course of years, only that, moments. It is easy to get to the place where you experience the pain of loneliness but how about the pain of loneliness that comes from one who is literally in their last months of life?

For me, at times, it is very hard to distinguish the differences between the work of Mosaic and the work of The Virtual Pew. Both have as a purpose to reach out to and serve those who are hurting. One brings in some level of support for Mosaic, the missional church ministry, the other, The Virtual Pew, in many ways serves others in various forms of hurt with an evangelical twist but it also brings in some money for Mosaic. Of course you need to understand, neither brings in enough to operate a full-time ministry but the ministry is effective.

One of the things we have done at Mosaic is to follow the Biblical expectation that we care for our neighbors, especially the orphans and widows, the poor and needy. We do many things including we mow and take care of the lawns for two individuals across the street, living in different homes, one an elderly lady and the other a elderly man who has for the last year been seriously decreasing in health. We have made it clear to both, we want nothing in return, we just want to serve them. We also take them food and offer other helps. The little lady has another gentlemen in the community who is helping her out, the elderly man we have noticed has no one.
The man, Gene was given 3 - 6 months to live a year ago. He has lasted the year but has declined so much that he now realizes he is in his last months. I along with my wife meet with him again today to discuss a request from him. He wants to move in with us here at Mosaic so that he doesn't have to die alone. Think about that, he doesn't want to die alone in a nursing home and appreciates what we have been doing for him over the last months that he is asking to move in with us, so he can be around people who have shown him compassion before he dies and doesn't have to die alone. Stop for a bit before reading on to think about this.

Gene has no family outside of some nieces and nephews whom he has no idea where they live. If he were to move in, for us at Mosaic, it would require a great deal of sacrifice for all of us. He would have to stay in an upstairs room, not able to get around much, require nursing care that comes into the house and for those that live here, during the times Mary Jane and I are away, extra effort on  the other residents part to help out. It means all of us spending more time upstairs with Gene during his last days on earth. It means at some point, having to help clean him if he can't get to the bathroom, helping sponge bathe him because he is too week to get into a shower or into a tub. It means taking meals upstairs, it means befriending someone even more so to be with them as they die. Those are not easy things, for family who has done this with others you know of the wear and the tear, for others, you can only imagine doing that for someone who isn't a regular part of your life. Could it be a challenge? How could it help but be anything else?

Many ask as to why to support Mosaic or The Virtual Pew, it is really quite simple, what we are talking about will cost more money which we don't have, it will take more time which is hard to come by but it will be showing love to someone who frankly, needs love and has no one else that is willing to give it, not a big church, not a big ministry, not even a wealthy individual, it has in fact, fallen on us to make the sacrifice of offering love which on paper, financially and from a time commitment is hard to imagine being done. Others will come up with their solutions which would likely include him dying alone, not feeling loved, wherever that may be. That solution is not acceptable to us. It wasn't acceptable because our residents have taken the time to serve this man, to get to know him and thankfully, get to the place where we don't want to see him die alone.
Does all of this mean we are taking him in right away? To be honest no it doesn't mean that, but we are meeting with him today, will meet with hospice care this week to also speak with them about how and if we can make this happen. I don't know the answer right now but will say, there is a better than 50% chance that we will be having him move in with us very soon, so he doesn't have to die alone. Let me ask a simple question, what are you willing to do to help, if not with this man, but someone who lives near you, someone you know? Can you think of someone who doesn't want to die alone? Would you be willing to bring them in to sacrifice to show them the love that God expects all of his children to show others? 

This isn't written to make Mosaic or The Virtual Pew to look good, it isn't written to make you feel guilty, it is written so that those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus will think more about the role and impact we can have on the hurting around us. Will we act like Jesus and show love to those who are hurting, those who struggle, those who need a companion and a friend named Jesus. Will we be willing to be the mirroring example of the love Christ has for them by loving them as Jesus loves them?  What you do with it will be entirely up to you, but I challenge, do something.

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