A Cry for Help

Today we start a new Reach Out month with a great post by Ada Brownell. As I read her story, I was reminded of all the ways God cares for us. Sending someone to help just when we need it, prompting someone to call or send us a card. And I imagine for most of us, there’s been many times when we’ve been on the other end–sensing God’s nudging, telling us to reach out to one of His children. Sometimes that may mean sending a letter or offering a hug. Other times, the moment might be a bit more serious.

A CRY FOR HELP By Ada Brownell

The phone rang.

When I answered, a woman’s voice explained the elderly widower, John, who lives across the street, punched the emergency gadget around his neck to summon help. Since we signed up to take calls, she phoned us.

“Could you please check on him and see if he is O.K.?” she asked.

Quickly I phoned my husband, who had gone to the store, and then ran over to the tri-level where John lives. The garage door was upon, so I barreled through, side-stepping a crimson pool about the size of a cake plate. There sat the old white-haired man on a white plastic lawn chair in the back of the garage, his face covered with blood.

“The emergency service called,” I explained. “What happened?”

“I fell. Passed out. So I called an ambulance.”

Stepping closer, I listened for sirens and heard none. I talked to him about the event, explaining that my husband, Les, was on his way to help.

“Would you like me to pray for you while they’re coming?” I asked. I had prayed with him before.

“Yes,” he said, his bloodshot eyes looking up at me. And then with slightly slurred speech he added, “I need all the prayer I can get.”

I prayed, and he seemed comforted.

Still no sirens. We live close to the hospital, so I have heard them by now, but nothing. He leaned forward. His eyes closed, and then he slipped down and started to tumble to the floor. I grabbed him, but the weight to keep him from dropping to the concrete was almost too much for me.

Then the old man roused, and seemed all right for a few minutes. Les arrived just in time to help when the gentleman passed out again. Les helped me hold the man in the chair.

“Go inside and get a cold rag to put on his head,” Les said.

I’m not one to barge into someone’s home uninvited, but I went, all the time wishing I had grabbed plastic gloves before I left home. Working as a medical reporter and after being in and around hospitals often I knew exposing yourself to blood is risky. I worried most about hepatitis.

After opening several cabinets in the utility room, I found some rags, chose one, wet it in the nearby sink and ran back out and held the cool cloth to our neighbor’s forehead.

“Thank you,” he said, seeming to be more alert.

The cloth warmed next to his skin as I held it. He seemed aware of the blood all over his face, apparently from a bloody nose. I thought of who he was in his prime, a former air traffic controller, probably quite dignified and different from the frail, shuffling man with the bulbous nose we knew now.

I turned the cloth and then used it to wipe the blood off his face. The white fabric was red now against my bare hand, but as I prayed for him it was as if I were doing the deed as an extension of the arm of Jesus, but also as a “cup of water in His name.” After all, I am a Christian and carry His name.

Les had called our neighbor’s son at work and he arrived soon and took his dad to the hospital, because the ambulance never came. The old man had misunderstood and thought when he pressed the emergency caller around his neck that he’d called an ambulance.

A few days later, he had a pacemaker surgically inserted into his heart and now is doing better.

God gave me peace about using my bare hands to wipe away blood, although I imagine if it occurred again, I’d grab plastic gloves we keep around and use when we paint.

I’ve said over and over during my life that I’m not the “nurse” type of individual, except with family. Yet, it seems the Lord doesn’t worry too much about our specialties when he needs someone.

That’s the way it seems my work for the Lord goes. Although many people are more qualified, God needs somebody at the moment, and I’m available.

Most days there is no crisis, but John is lonely. When we have dessert or I cook too much food, I share with John. When I go outside and he’s out, I visit with him a while. It’s really not much, but I’m rewarded with his and the Lord’s gratitude.

Ada Brownell is the author of Swallowed by LIFE Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal

A retired medical journalist asks, “Do you know evidence shows we’re more than a physical body?” The book speaks about this mystery and the evidence; the wonder of life with all its electrical systems; the awesome truth about cell death and regeneration; brain death; mysteries surrounding the change from mortal to immortal; where we go when our body dies; resurrection; and a glimpse at what we will do in heaven. Questions and answers make this a great book for group study.

Ada Brownell spent 17 years as a daily newspaper reporter and has written for Christian publications since age 16. Her published writing includes two books, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal http://amzn.to/Jnc1rW, and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but now available for Kindle http://buff.ly/KmLPMi

Ada still writes op-ed pieces for newspapers; has more than 275 articles and stories in Christian publications; chapters in several books, including “50 Tough Questions” (Gospel Publishing House). Website/blog: www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com.

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I want to give a shout-out to September’s Reach Out Donors:

Simple Faith by Eddie Snipesthe Road to Mercy by Kathy HarrisThe Other Side of Darkness by Linda Rondeau, and Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta. Kathy Harris, is also donating Karyn Williams’ musical CD entitled Only You.

There’s a song I love that says, “I will go.” I often pray that God helps me live those words out because honestly, I recognize my frequent tendency to stay. This post reminded me never to take God’s nudges lightly because truly, we don’t know what He’s calling us to until we get there.

What about you? When have you felt God nudge you to do something and later found out it the event was a bigger deal than you’d expected? Or when has God sent someone to you at that perfect time? Tell us about it.

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Reach Out Recap–Five Months of Love

Today I close the fifth month of Reach Out stories–of reading how God’s children across the nation are actively sharing the love of Christ. You’re at park benches, on subways, reaching out to the homeless, the orphan, and the felon. With each encounter, each authentic display of love, you are revealing the nature of Christ. In today’s world with so many political battle lines and carelessly spoken words, Christ’s image often gets tainted. But life by life, as each one of us reaches out to someone else and allows God to love them through us, we help others see Christ as He truly is–filled with a passionate, initiating love–a love that drew Him to the cross.

I loved this month’s reach out stories, each one for different reasons.

I loved Vona Elkins Bankson’s story because it demonstrated an important truth–one we must not only remember but actively live out. Our church is our family. We’re a unit. When one member hurts, every member hurts. It is important that we reach out to one another within our church body as much, if not more, than we reach out to those outside it. When we sit in the pews and watch the others sit around us, may we always remember they are our sisters, our brothers, fathers and mothers.

Here’s a snippet of her story, Lives Intertwined.

“Recently the Young Adult men’s Sunday school class led by Rodger Nix, heard of a young couple with many needs who had moved into the community. The father was battling cancer; the mother was working alongside him in a tree grinding business trying to eke out a living for them and their four-year old daughter. …” (Read more here.)

I loved Jennifer Hallmark’s story for two reasons. First, it reminded me that the church body exists beyond our church walls as well and includes all who love Jesus Christ. It also reminded me we can serve where ever we are. Often we think we have to wait until our church starts a program or ministry, but if God’s laid something on your heart, follow through. There are countless ways to serve each day. Find one and jump in! And like Jennifer says, become a revolutionary–someone who inspires others to love and greatness.

Here’s a portion of her story, Be a Revolutionary:

“Are you a revolutionary? Encarta Dictionary has two definitions I like: “causing, supporting, or advocating revolution” and “so new and different as to cause a major change in something.” We can start a “revolution” in our circle of influence through outreach.” (Read the rest here.)

Sandra Robbin’s testimony of a time when she reached out to a broken woman on the subway touched me deeply because I’ve been that woman. I’ve never feared losing a child, but I’ve had times where I’ve been broken, longing for support or comfort. (I suspect we all have at some point.) I’ve also been on the other end. I’ve been in a crowded area–the airport, the grocery store, a restaurant–and have seen others distraught. Most often, I’ve walked away, not knowing what to do. Sandra reminded me sometimes the best thing we can do is offer to pray with that person.

Here’s a portion of her story, Reaching Out to the Broken:

“I was excited that day as I arrived at the airport to fly to Texas for a visit with my daughter’s family. But I wasn’t as excited as were the men on the packed shuttle bus that picked me up in parking lot. Since this was during March Madness, I knew right away from their clothing and their boisterous voices that they were on their way to a basketball game. I squeezed past the ones standing in the aisle and reached a bench that ran along the side of the bus. I sat down, my knees almost touching a woman sitting on the bench facing me. …” (Read more here.)

I’d love to hear from you. What did God say to you through these posts? Which one impacted you most, and why? Tell us about it in the comments. Would you like to read more Reach Out stories? Or is there perhaps another topic you’d like to see addressed? Let me know. 🙂

And again, I want to give a huge shout out of thanks to all my August Reach Out donors:

Eddie Snipes with I Called Him Dancera novel quite fitting for this campaignJoAnn Durgin with Second Time AroundEileen Rife with Second Chanceanother novel with an outreach focus; Sandra Robbins with Fatal Disclosureand Ann Lee Miller with Kicking Eternity.

Who Won? You Choose!

This month has really flown by. I hope you’ve enjoyed each Reach Out to Live Out story shared here. Have they stirred your thinking? Encouraged you to look for ways to reach out with the love of Christ? I’d love to read about how each one impacted you.

I think my favorite was “Head Down” by Nichole Parks. I keep my head down way too often when God says, “Look up and around! Can’t you see my hurting child whom I’ve intentionally placed in your path?”

Here’s a snippet:

“Our community college will accept anybody. I’ve seen the druggies, heard the potty-mouths, and looked away from the risqué. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s keep your head down. Considering we’re approaching finals, I’d say the strategy has worked.” Read the rest here.

As a writer, I also enjoyed Margaret Daley’s story, Fiction That Reaches Into Prison Cells.

“When a woman who worked at a Florida female prison helping the inmates contacted me, I was surprised and excited about the prospects of the outreach for my book. She’d read my Love Inspired, Second Chance Family, and was interested in using that story with the women. Second Chance Family dealt with abuse and some of the women she worked with had gone through it.”

You can read the rest here.

Margaret’s story reminded me I never know how God will use my obedience. I’ve found, His ways truly are well beyond mine, and He’s able to multiply blessings, turning a novel into a conduit of healing, an email into a powerful touch of grace. Sometimes I see the results, other times I must proceed in faith, knowing He has a glorious reason for every command He gives.

Elaine Cooper’s story, Pushing Past Our Comfort Zones, reminded me not to get stuck in a “serving routine.” While it’s true, God wants us to serve in our areas of giftedness, He still expects us to serve “where needed,” maintaining a “get ‘er done” attitude.

Here’s a blip of Elaine’s story:

“Let me be honest— I am not the greatest cook in the world. Thoughts of potlucks at church and Bible study nearly send me into an anxiety attack. I always imagine kindly Christians munching into my culinary creation and assuring me how good it is…until they turn around and spit it into their napkin, hoping not to be noticed! Now, I have never seen that happen, but it is always my fear. Cooking has never been easy for me.”

Read the rest here.

What did you glean from this month’s stories? How did they impact your day? I’d love to read all about it.

I’d also love to know what you’re doing–at your job, in your neighborhood, your city, through texts or emails–to share Christ’s love with a hurting world.

Yesterday at church, the worship leader made an awesome statement. He reminded us it isn’t “Christian vs. the world” but instead, “Christians for the world.” Stop and think about this for a moment.  A long moment. 🙂 Then ask yourself: How can I tear down barriers and build bridges today?

Come back Wednesday to see who won our gift basket and book give-away! (Mary Preston, please email me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. You won the April book give-away, and I need your address. 🙂 )

Many thanks to May’s generous donors!

Someone For Kids to Latch on to

A few weeks ago, I read a Facebook thread complaining about the “state of our world.” Wars, violence, greed corruption. We create policies and host protests, write articles and share moving/inspiring/shocking pictures and Youtube videos on all the evils in the world, but I believe this focuses on the symptoms, not the cause. What if we focused instead on creating long-term change by getting involved in the lives of hurting, neglected, abused, and/or abandoned kids? What if we, as parents, were diligent about teaching love, generosity, compassion, and community involvement? What if we spent more time getting involved in the lives of people–one-on-one?

There’s an old saying, “Each one Reach One.” Imagine a church of 300 members. Imagine if each member found one person–a single mom, an addict or alcoholic, a troubled teen, a hurting child–to consistently and diligently reach out to. Now, say there are 20 churches in a community. Multiply this by 300. That’s 600 lives changed, only it doesn’t stop at those 600 lives. Each child and teen grows up to be a mommy or daddy or aunt or uncle who then impacts the next generation, who then impacts the next generation who then …. You get the idea.

After you read the following “Reach Out” story, I challenge you to spend a moment in prayer asking God whom He’d like you to reach out to. Not for a day, or a week, but who does God want you to pour into, on a consistent basis. Because the next generation depends on the one-on-one involvement of the church today.

SOMEONE FOR KIDS TO LATCH ON TO: JESUS

By Ada Brownell

      “The police came to our house last night to get Daddy,” the little boy announced. “He hid in the back on the shelf in the closet and they didn’t find him!”

His eyes sparkled with triumph.

The report came during our opening moments at the Dunamis Academy, an after-school and summers program where I heard similar stories. Dunamis means supernatural power.

I started the program at our church daycare after retirement. A number of the elementary children in the class were Social Services children who didn’t attend our church.

When I had the idea for the after-school program, I was concerned about latch-key children because I’d written about them in my work as a daily newspaper reporter in Pueblo, Colo. I prayed about it and thought God would raise up a pastor with the vision to use the church’s empty spaces to reach youngsters who needed the gospel, bring the congregation’s children into deeper knowledge of the Word, and help children not doing well in school with tutoring. I hoped spiritually mature teenagers and other volunteers would help.

Then I spoke to the daycare director and she also caught the vision because the older children already enrolled in the daycare after school and summers needed something constructive to do.

The first summer the director taught the lower grades and I took upper elementary. We continued the program after school and summer for two years. We charged a nominal fee to children not enrolled in day care. There was no charge to students already enrolled.

Summers for three hours Monday through Thursday we sang, prayed, played, studied Bible stories, memorized scripture, did skits, saw object lessons, participated in discussion, listened to guest speakers, did crafts and learned how to operate puppets in ministry (the children’s pastor taught puppetry).  Daycare children stayed for a leisurely afternoon.

On Fridays we went on all-day field trips to ministries in Colorado Springs to show children some of the ministries for which they could prepare. We watched a Christian radio missionary who was broadcasting the gospel around the world. We visited Focus on the Family. At David C. Cook we saw how artists create illustrations for their publications. We visited the Navigator’s castle and others. The next year we visited soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other charities in our city.

We had guest speakers, two I’d like to mention. The teenager emigrated from Africa, told about the differences in freedoms there and America and taught a song in Swahili: “Hold on to Jesus.”  The other was a public high school teacher through playing a game called “Virus X” taught how quickly sexually transmitted diseases spread.

According to the last statistics I gathered, five million elementary-age U.S. children grow up with no supervision after school. Twenty-two million adolescents are unsupervised between 3 and 6 p.m. on a typical day, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Child Care Bureau.

At the same time, thousands of large church buildings are unoccupied except for a few people working in the office.

Large numbers of America’s youth have never heard the gospel. The church is losing young people to secularism.  Some churches have eliminated Christian education, thereby carelessly dropping their sterling silver youth down the garbage disposal. Churches that emphasize discipleship often have only a small percentage of children and youth receiving training.

The first summer of the Dunamis Academy, the two daycare assistants in my classes put the date they accepted Jesus as Savior during that time. Most of the children also invited Jesus into their hearts.

It was a great deal of work, but also gave great spiritual reward to me. If I were young again, I’d love to help establish more programs like it.

One note I’d like to add. Quite a few churches have after-school programs, but the ones I’ve seen don’t emphasize the gospel. We informed parents we would teach undenominational Bible classes and had them sign their permission. We didn’t have one parent opt out. In fact, we had great feedback, with parents coming to awards ceremonies.

I imagine they were like my dad when our family started going to church. He said, “Let them go. I heard they teach children to obey their parents.”

Ada’s Book, Swallowed by Life:

A retired medical reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado, the author looked into evidences w in medicine and the Bible that show we’re more than a body.

The book is about serious matters, but truths are introduced in an easy to read and interesting manner with faith-filled illustrations, quotes and anecdotes.

The book discusses the wonder of who we are, how we know we’re more than a body, how we determine truth about the eternal, the wonders of life itself, discoveries of regenerative medicine, the dying process and how brain death is determined, where we go at death and why we still will participate in the resurrection, along with what we will do in heaven.

 Each chapter has a question and answer section for discussion or contemplation. The book is a good Bible study guide not only for grief support groups and those who have a serious chronic or terminal diagnosis, but also for those curious about the future, those who fear death, those who need their faith strengthened, people who don’t know Jesus, and individuals who give them counsel.

Ada Brownell is the Author of Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal. She is a free lance writer, former daily newspaper reporter, wife, mom and granny. Music has always been part of her life and erupts because of the joy Jesus gives.

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We are to be Christ’s hands and feet, His instruments of love to a hurting world. Can you share a time when God called you to mentor or build a relationship with someone else? Or perhaps you were once a troubled youth whose life was changed by the consistent, positive interaction of someone else. Share your story with us and may we all spur one another on toward good deeds.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free book, and submit your “Reach Out” story for a chance to win a gift basket.

April’s donors include Mary Ellis with An Amish Family Reunion, Deborah Raney with Almost Forever, Cara Putman with A  Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, Vannetta Chapman with Falling to Pieces, Rebecca Lyles with Winds of Wyoming, and Gina Holmes with Dry as Rain. (Read more about all these great books here, and show your appreciating by clicking on their names to visit their websites.)

You might also enjoy reading: The Trickle Effect Part I, Part II, and Part III, and Create Family Not Converts.

And for those of you who believe you’re too busy to get involved in someone else’s life, I challenge you to read this story. The Bible tells us anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. Don’t put off until tomorrow what God’s calling you to do today. Tomorrow might be too late.