This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
A reader named Jim (“Journaling for Growth“) sent me this story:
My wife, Vicki sold an annuity product to a minister and his wife. They are ministers to the Mattaponi American Indian Reservation here in Central Virginia. Vicki stated how nice it would be to have a purpose to visit the Mattaponi.
The minister said there was a woman who needs a lot of help. She is the daughter of May who was (she has since past) unable to get out of bed. Mayâ€™s daughter never left the trailer they live in on the reservation while May was ill.
The daughter of May ( I am unable to recall her name) had a full time job that did not earn an income. The trailer they live in had no skirting around it to keep the pipes from freezing and the heat from escaping through the floor. The kitchen sink was being held up by cinder block because of water damage to the counter top around the opening for the sink. There was a need to repair the handicap ramp, the water heater was falling through the floor because it had been leaking at the joints and the window mounted air conditioner had stopped working.
My wife, Vicki and I went to the reservation to see what needed repaired and how we would make the repairs. We took measurements for a new counter top. We measured for skirting to put around the trailer. And I inspected to discover what I needed to do to repair the floor under the water heater and fix the leak on the water heater. I observed the hot water line to the kitchen sink had been completely disconnected because it had frozen and the brother of this woman did not know how to fix it. A poor excuse for disconnecting the water line but that is what he had done.
I attended our weekly small group meeting and took the opportunity to ask if I could get their help in making these repairs. Vicki and I paid for the material and the group was willing to meet us and help throughout the day. The ladies from the group volunteered to clean the small Baptist church building that was on the reservation while we men worked on the repairs. Behind my back, a few of the ladies organized a food drive to give food to this family. It was amazing! We accomplished all that needed to be done. And even further, we paid for a booth at our churches annual craft show on behalf of the Mattaponi Reservation so that the people of the reservation could sell their crafts there.
There was a problem in knowing how we would be able to afford a new counter top for this trailer. Vicki and I had already spent quite a bit and just could not do any more. We did not feel right in asking the people of our small group to contribute any money since we were already benefiting from their willingness to help with the work and their creative thinking in how they themselves could do more for the reservation than we had planned. So, we committed it to prayer.
In church, the Sunday prior to going to the reservation, my wife and I were talking to Ray and Thelma. We were discussing their recent move into a home they had purchased. Ray began discussing the remodeling of the house. He was complaining that he has been repeatedly put off by the cabinet maker and finally, that week, Ray and Thelma would be getting their new counter top and sink!
I said, â€œRay. You are part of Godâ€™s plan to help these people see Christ. Can I have your old sink and counter top?â€
Ray could not believe that he was complaining when he realized what I needed his old counter top and sink for. He even gave us the faucet with the sink. The counter top was too long. But, that was better than being too short. We cut it to cover the cabinets and tied the new plumbing in.
At the end of our day of work, Don Stewart, the minister to the Mattaponi read from his Bible to May and her daughter. Weâ€™re not certain May ever understood. We hope that her daughter did and that she would have spoken to May, giving her an opportunity to accept the Lord. After May had passed, Don Stewart said the daughter had attended a church service at the Baptist church on the reservation. Don retired this past year as a minister as he has a neurological illness. We donâ€™t know if May or her daughter accepted the Lord. But, I know the Lord is proud of the work we did that day. I had been back a few times to tie some loose ends on the projects we did.