About a month ago a woman visited the Anaheim church Thursday night assembly. She came expecting to find financial relief for burdens she was facing.
She joined in on our evangelistic role play the first hour of our meeting and then also in our Bible study the second hour. The role play captivated her attention with her expressing interest and a desire to know more about the subject that was being discussed. The second hour she had less interest in because she found it difficult to follow along in her Spanish Bible with understanding.
At the close of our meeting she had hoped that we would read a letter, requesting financial aid, to the church, wich we did not do. However we spoke with her about her situation in an attempt to understand the best way to help.
She was from Tijuanna, Mexico and claimed to be momentarily destitute. As we “invistigated” her situation seemed less momentary and more perpetual. The church did not offer her any money from the treasury, nor did any individuals decide to give her any money. My family however did give her a ride home. We left her with our contact information and suggested we’d be happy to help her situation where we could if we got together again. This included assisting her in getting back to her family in Tijuana. She was staying with her brother and sister-in-law in Anaheim.
We did not hear back from her until a couple of weeks later when she was requesting transportation to the bus and fare to go back to Tijuana. I called and invited Dauane Shelton of the Anaheim assembly to join me and we spent the morning and early afternoon getting her situated for her bus ride home.
While waiting for her bus, we studied the gospel with her at a nearby Subway. We began our studies where she and I had left off a couple of weeks earlier in the role play. The topic was the church – where it came from and how one becomes a member of it. Our studies confirmed that she had indeed obeyed the gospel and was in fact a sister in Christ! Our studies also revealed that she was lacking accurate knowledge about a number of fundamental doctrines including the church.
Duane and I went as far as we could with her in the time we had before getting her on her bus back home. Contact information was exchanged and plans to get together for further study when she visits Anaheim were discussed.
That this woman was a sister was unknown to us even in her visit to our assembly. Her needs seemed like so many others, questionable and extreme – $600 or kicked out on the street. Not discerning that she was a sister in Christ and willing to grow in her faith, and her being from Mexico where it would be very difficult to confirm her story, it was easy to justify denying her request. And this might be as it should be, but there is more to benevolence than just physical need. There is a soul behind every request. A soul in need of the truth of God. A soul whom we have an opportunity to influence for the Lord.
Do we see the souls behind the problems?The souls behind what for some has become a game of manipulation? They are there. Can we minister to them? Yes. Can we do it well? Probably only with rediness through prayer and practice.
Will we see this sister again. Maybe, maybe not, hopefully. Please pray we had help her mature in the knowledge of God.
Let’s do all we can to minister to people for their souls sake and God’s glory.
I withhold her name and picture for the sake of being careful not to offend her thoughts about privacy.