May 8, 2015

Bruised, Hurting and Dirty / George Kane

Seeing how God never tires of reaching out to us

George KaneEvery day before the missionaries go out, we spend an hour in prayer asking the Lord what to say and who to visit. Often, names and faces of people we know will come to mind, but sometimes we don’t recognize the image of the person we see. This happened one day when my mom, Andrea, was visiting and doing mission work with us.

In prayer, she saw in her mind’s eye an elderly black woman wearing an old-fashioned duster coat. She had a sense that God wanted us to teach her a song called, “The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases,” which is based on Lamentations 3:22-23.

When my mom shared what she’d received in prayer with the other missionaries, Mary smiled in surprise. She knew exactly who my mom had seen! Connie was an elderly black woman who lived alone in a large apartment complex, and she always wore a duster. That year, we had given her our Christmas card and wrote a personal message on the back, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases!” (Lam 3:22-23)

I was particularly excited to share this song with Connie because of the sobering incident that had brought us into her life. A few months ago, Connie had startled her neighbors by knocking at their door asking incoherently for some food. It turned out she hadn’t eaten for two weeks.

Mary, my mom and I decided to visit Connie first that day. Though she’d been there for months, Connie’s tiny apartment was completely bare. There was no soap by the sinks, nothing in the cupboards, and plastic sheeting still on her mattress. Her only decoration was our Christmas card taped to the wall, featuring 15 smiling missionaries.

Connie welcomed us in, but looked morose. She told us that she’d been struggling and feeling down all day. When we told her about how the Lord had sent us there, though, she cracked a big smile. We sang the song my mom had mentioned earlier, and the smile grew bigger.

When we finished, she said quietly, “Before I met you, I thought nobody cared about me. … It feels so good to know that somebody cares.”

When God gave that amazingly accurate image of Connie and song to my mom, he didn’t do it to advance some big important project that would change the course of history. God, a true Father, desired to comfort his daughter who was feeling low that day. He also must have known how it would build up our faith as missionaries to see his hand so clearly at work in our friend’s life. Truly, as Pope Francis has said, “God never tires of reaching out to us.”

While I’m still troubled by Connie’s circumstances, seeing God work in power that day has me convinced that, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
 

(George Kane is a graduate of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and a former member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. You can read more of his columns at georgekane.wordpress.com.)

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