How could I possibly minister to her? We had nothing in common… or so I thought.
We were in Poiana, Romania, visiting some of the people that our friends Alex and Heather Chalmers minister to. It is hard to put into words the poverty that we saw, and how helpless I felt. I wanted to minister to them, but had a hard time finding the words. This was particularly difficult when we visited Mihaela.* This lovely old woman lived in a house… I don’t even know that you could call it that. It was more like a room. About 10 feet by 10 feet, with no electricity and no running water. Our team (of 10 people) hardly fit as we visited her. Someone gave her a wind-up flash light, and you would have thought she had won the lottery! She obviously didn’t have many possessions, and yet all that she had was neatly arranged in this small room. She had taken great care to decorate her little space and make it a home. It was forcing me to put in perspective the many comforts that we enjoy and that we so often take for granted.
I wanted to minister to her, but didn’t know how. We had nothing in common! Neither age, nor race, nor language, nor culture… nothing! So I asked the Lord to give me something that I could share with her to let her feel His love. Then I found out her only son had died a while back. Now we had something in common: the pain of losing a loved one. I sensed Holy Spirit prompting me to share my story and comfort her with the comfort I had received from the Lord.
So I asked our translators to tell her that I understood her pain because I had recently lost my husband, and that I would like to hug her. Mihaela looked up at me and her eyes welled with tears. I embraced her and we both cried together. We shared a moment of grief. The pain we had both experienced became the bridge that crossed over all boundaries and joined our hearts.
I later found out that she had never cried over the loss of her son. In communist Romania, they had been conditioned to just bury their dead and quickly get on with life. But God brought a total stranger from the other side of the world to minister to her – not with eloquent words, but with a simple hug. It was a hug that said: “God sees your pain.” It was a hug that said, “God cares about you.”
I am reminded of Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
You can partner with God in bringing comfort and hope to others. No matter where you are, look around. People are hurting. Even if you don’t have anything else in common with them, share the love that you have received from God. Share the comfort that you have experienced from Him. Encourage others with the encouragement you have found in Him. You will be surprised at how God will use you to minister to others, if you are just willing.
*I changed her name to protect her privacy.
Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | Al Rights Reserved 2015