Source of Hope….
You may be the person God will use to bring someone hope in Jesus Christ…
Cathy and James (names changed) met at a Friendship Bible class several years ago. James lived in a group home for adults with intellectual disabilities for about 20 years. He kept to himself, remaining distant from others to the point of not wanting anyone to touch him. The first evening James came to class he was angry because he was forced to attend. The group home was short staffed and everyone had to go; no one could stay home. James sat in the back of the room by himself at a round table large enough for eight people. Cathy, one of the volunteer companions, sat at the table with James positioned to have eye contact with him. He did not speak and it became apparent he was non-verbal. He even refused snacks at the end of the class; possibly because he was still angry, or maybe because he did not have any teeth.
As the Lord would have it; James returned to the class the following week and Cathy shared his table with him with limited communication. Cathy learned from the other students that James liked to have a can of soda, so she began to bring a can of his favorite drink to every class. After several weeks, his trust level improved and he allowed Cathy to lay her hand on him as they prayed. She would also rub his hands and he began to smile in appreciation for the human contact. This simple act of compassion was God’s love in action. Cathy felt her heart warm as their friendship grew. Within a few months Cathy got James to move with her to a table with the other students. He began to enjoy the class and would even do the hand movements that accompanied the songs.
Fast forward a couple years and James did not show up for Bible class. We learned he was in the hospital on a respirator with pneumonia and other complications. Cathy and her husband visited James in the hospital – with a can of his favorite soda. She prayed with James just as she helped him to pray in class and told him how wonderful it will be for him in heaven. She gave him a goodbye kiss and he opened his eyes ever so slightly. Cathy learned that he had one sibling that lived out of state. He didn’t visit, but directed the hospital to disconnect respirator. James lived for about three more weeks and died alone without family or friends; no obituary, no memorial or funeral service.
If this was the end of the story, we would be feel sadness and hopelessness. But Easter tells us this is not the end of the story. James passed with hope, which is the Christian confidence in salvation through Christ Jesus. St. Paul wrote in Romans 8:26, “in the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”.
Cathy along with the other volunteers in James’ Friendship class helped him experience God’s love and compassion in very tangible ways. Through them he experienced God’s mercy as his soul accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Because of our faith and hope we can be sure that James has been made whole in God’s presence through the blood of Jesus Christ. We give praise to God for Cathy and the other volunteers in James’ class. Is there a person for whom you can be the source of God’s hope?