Sometimes ministry takes place because of grand preparations. Sometimes ministry takes place with a casual word, spoken without much thought to its impact. Any medical mission is in the category of ministry which requires great preparation. If you are going to demonstrate the love of Jesus to people who are sick, you need to be prepared with the right tools to do so.
But tonight, I experienced the other kind of ministry, that which takes place without much thought of its impact. Granted, we can destroy relationships with a casual word, but we can also draw people to God through the casual word.
I was chilling out in my room tonight getting ready to write my daily journal. My next-door neighbor was with me, and we were just talking. Not writing. There was a knock at my open door, and Jeff went to “answer” it. There stood one of the young gals that works here in the office at the guest house. She wanted to talk, and it was clear she was under some level of distress.
The three of us sat down to talk. The conversation began as she explained how she came to be in our presence tonight. I had said something earlier in the week. As I was leaving the dining room — and I probably was exhausted and just wanted to get to my room — I said (and it’s not even clear if I spoke to this young gal or not…), “I have to go say goodnight to my daughter.” Casual comment, right? No big deal, right?
But it was that statement of a father’s love for his daughter which brought her to me tonight. She was overwhelmed that there really was a father out there that would love his daughter. Her father abandoned her family when she was young. And recently, her husband abandoned her and her year-old child. Her husband even said the same thing to her that her father had said to her mother as he walked out years ago. Children don’t forget those traumatic moments of life, do they?
So here we three sat, weeping. I was desperate for words that could bring her comfort. She needed some hope. I blathered on and tried to connect with her. After some time, we prayed together on our knees. Her situation is desperate. She didn’t ask for money, but sought reassurance that God loved her in spite of all the failures of love which surrounded her.
As she left, I probably said the most important thing I could have said tonight. Words she will probably remember as much as those casual comments made as I left the dining room. Only this time they were not random words. They were spontaneous, yes, but they reflected my heart. As she turned to leave, I said to her, “Goodnight, my daughter.” I wanted her to know that there was a father figure in her life who would love her in spite of everything else. I could be that model of God to her. It’s the least I could do.
We will chat again before I leave. There was a whole lot of pre-planned ministry this week. And there were also those random moments where ministry just happened. And God is leading in both.