Our group of volunteers from Teens Opposing Poverty (TOP) pulled up to the motel for a midweek ministry trip. We dodged raindrops as the youth played with the children who lived there and the adults handed out toiletries, paper products, cereal and other needed items.
From a room near the end of the building, a man walked slowly, unsteadily and painfully towards us. His lanky frame was stooped. Sometimes he winced as he took a step. As he got closer, we could smell the alcohol on his breath and see the haze over his blue eyes. We welcomed him and introduced ourselves to Donald.
After a few minutes of conversation he told us that, just four days earlier, he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. The doctors told him there was nothing they could do. He had six months to a year to live. Tears welled up in his eyes as he told us about the pain in his body and his heart. He was grieving.
“I’ve been drinking” he said. “I never drank much before, but it helps to take away the pain. I know you’re Christians. I’m a Christian, too. But it hurts. It really hurts.”
We gave Donald some things he needed and slipped him a bag of cookies. He smiled as he hid them under his shirt and made the short, painful journey back to his room. A few minutes later, he shuffled slowly up the sidewalk to rejoin us. He stayed with us for over an hour, drinking in the love and fellowship of his new friends.
As we got ready to leave, he gave us all a hug. The things we brought him were a big help. The rent at the motel consumed all of his income, so he was grateful for any other help he could get. But he told us that spending time with us meant a lot more than the stuff.
Donald was facing a living hell of pain, fear and grief. Until we showed up, he faced it alone. Nobody should have to face that kind of hell-on-earth alone. An hour, or even a moment, of knowing that somebody cares can impact a person’s life in ways we can’t imagine.
Of all the things we do in TOP’s ministries, sometimes just being there for a person at that all-important, God-appointed time when they need a friend has the greatest impact on everyone involved.
God’s grace to you,