Feb 14, 2021 08:00am
Testimony of a Frontline Worker

      On a recent podcast Thom Rainer said, “You should treat everyone equally the same.” That sounds right because church is certainly no place to be showing favoritism. In Ephesians 4 Paul stresses oneness of body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God.  Sam Rainer then said, “I need to push back on that a little because it is not realistic.  The need creates attention to the things that need attention when they need attention.”  The reality is that people have different needs, at different times, and at different levels of intensity.

      My wife Shelby is a registered nurse (RN) and has worked on the floor of two hospitals over the last twelve years. Whenever there is a code blue the urgency of that situation requires everyone’s immediate focus and attention. The patient is in a life-threatening challenge, and many times their heart has stopped beating.  This requires an all-hands-on-deck mentality and the needs of other patients who are two rooms down must be placed on the back burner.  The medical staff cannot be focused on a patient’s request for a Diet Coke at that moment. 

      In ministry there are many times that the needs are so critical it demands the immediate attention of the pastor, staff, and sometimes even the entire church body.  This could include the death of a loved one, a major life-threatening accident, a marriage about to dissolve, or an intervention that must take place.  Leaders are called to serve others just as medical staff is called to serve others. The question needs to be asked: “Who is serving them?”

      In Philippines 4:10 Paul says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it.”  He continues in verse 15 saying, “And you Philippians know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone.”  Thank God for those who are serving those who serve.

      During this difficult and unprecedented time how can your church serve those who are serving such as public officials, first responders (police, firemen, paramedics, EMTs) and medical personnel such as doctors, nurses, nurse’s aides, support staff, nursing homes, hospice, and funeral homes.  As one man in our church stated about medical professionals, “They are pretty beat up right now.”  There are life-changing and life-altering moments in all of our lives that demand immediate attention.  

      Here is a testimony from one of those medical professionals, my wife: “Multiple facets of our lives have changed for many of us in the past year and we wonder if life will ever be the same again. For those of us in the medical field, 2020 has reshaped the way we deal with life and death. This is not a discussion of COVID, masks, or vaccines but just my thoughts on the harsh realities that I personally have had to face.  

      “I work in a small hospital in a small town. I know that what I’ve experienced doesn’t begin to compare with the number of deaths, difficulties, fatigue, and shortages that the larger cities have had. Though on a smaller scale, our situation has still been heart wrenching. The constant in my life has first been the Lord and his Word. Then He has blessed me with a great support system in Larry, our family, and fellow believers. I will get random texts from family and friends to remind me that they are praying for me.    

      “I’ve had the privilege to pray with several of my patients during this time,  but I’m thankful that I am always able to pray over them and for them and their families.  I have had patients pass away in the 13 years I’ve been a nurse and those deaths were difficult as well, but this season has been different.  During normal times, multiple family members most likely were present to say good-bye to their loved one, holding their hand, praying, singing, whispering sweet words, or gently stroking their brow.  

      “Now, at the end of life, one person might be able to be by the bedside for a few minutes, but more often than not, FaceTime has been used. Families and staff cry together. The funeral home representatives will come in with their gurney to take the deceased away. In our old normal they will have had a nice blanket that perhaps has the monogram of their facility to cover the patient and wheel them discreetly away. But not so much now. 

      “I recently had my first experience putting a person in a body bag for transport. The gentleman wasn’t my patient. I knew nothing of him or his family.  I was just helping another nurse friend and the funeral home transporter.  It wasn’t an easy task.  As I was doing the final zip to close the bag all I could see was his bare feet.  I had to pause and take a breath.  I wondered, “Do those feet know Jesus?  Did they walk with him?”  Then I closed the bag.  I’ll never look at feet the same way again.”

      Now is the time for us to focus on serving those who serve. How can your church be a blessing and an encouragement to these who are working on the front lines and who are emotionally weary and physically tired.  

Brainstorm ways you might get them a gift card, feed them lunch, send them flowers or some other way of letting them know their service is greatly appreciated. Pray for them, encourage them, and send them a text letting them know they are loved!

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