LOVE………SO HARD TO ACHIEVE !

ImageThe word LOVE is a concept that is very difficult to understand in my estimation.   There is so much that surrounds it’s meaning.     The Bible reminds us that we become rather meaningless without love.   No matter how smart, or powerful we are, without love we are without direction.   It seems to boil down to the fact, no matter what we do, all these things are folly and gains us nothing without love.    The Bible also attempts to let us know what love is……it suffers long, kind, not envious, is not puffed up, does not behave badly nor seek her own,  is not angry, has no evil thoughts, focuses on the truth,  tolerant of all things, believes in all things, hopes in all things, endures all things, and never fails.    Love is considered greater than faith or hope.   ARE YOU KIDDING ME ?

How can one person fulfill all these qualities of love ?   That is why I consider the term very difficult to understand and even more difficult to achieve.  

     Lately I have been perplexed at considering love in my life of 70 years.   I have said it and I say it again, I feel like I have been unloved most of my life.   Oh, I do believe my mother loved me and there may be a few others that I fail to recognize here, but when it comes down to feeling loved………the emotion escapes me.   I have lacked an emotional tie to very few, if any, as a child and beyond.   What I did experience was a dependency on my family and brothers for my well-being.   As I grew older, that dependency lessened and I was left with confusion about being genuinely loved by others, even though I tried to express my feelings for them.    At times I have even gone overboard in trying to convince folks I loved them.   Some of this hinged upon buying my love in some ways.

      As a pre-teen, I felt confused and sought attention (both positive and negative) ultimately looking for feed back from others as a way of feeling I was important to someone.   By this time, it was no secret; I was prone to being depressed and went to extremes to seek attention.  One thing I did on a couple occasions was to eat grasshoppers and small rocks on the schoolyard gaining the attention of other classmates.   As I moved into my teen years, I found I could get more positive attention by doing well in my academics and music.   I also played basketball but that was not something I cared for and certainly felt forced upon in a small town school for more or less being required to play.   I was the tallest student in the high school of less than 50, so of course I was expected to play the “center” position.    I always seemed out of sync with the other students who were moving into popularity with other students, dating and experiencing the high school romances usual at that age.    For me, dating was just a “put on” (a show for my peers and family) to cover up the real feelings I had about the whole thing.   I wanted to look like I could be loved, but always disappointed when I tried.   

      As I moved into adulthood, my attempts at loving someone from the heart (and even sexually), ended up in disaster most of the time.   I found I was always the performer and the partner had alternative motives.   When I stopped pretending there was true love between us, and discovered the truth, I was crushed and felt I was a failure.   Whatever happened to loving someone unconditionally?  As a result, I have given up on having more failed relationships and settle for sharing my love (or whatever it is called) with all people.   You may hear me say “love you” a lot, and I genuinely feel it, however it brings me to tears when I look at how so many others feel there are conditions about me that prohibits a deeper relationship…….a deeper relationship to the family, to my peers and to my church.   But in spite of how I am loved or not loved, I insist it is important for me to love everyone.  

     Though there remains emptiness within me, not having a committed partner, or a broader communal love; there are some qualities I would list as essential to me.  I am not seeking a partner in life at my age of 70 but recognize it is still important to be loved by others with out abuse or rejection.   These might include a shared obedience to each other, respect, willingness to negotiate without anger, allowing me to be my own individual, and when I fail, not being judgmental or rejecting.   I seek acceptance in spite of my life conditions and handicaps without criticism or complaint.  I recognize the importance of sex in a relationship, but sex does not serve as a substitute for a deeper, heartfelt emotional love.    I am sure there are more, but these are some that come from the top of my mind.  

      Working with people as I do in this ministry, I am totally blown away at the frequency of sex activity and numbers of sexual partners.   I am definitely naïve about  this, but offer my opinion that sex is not the answer to true love in a relationship.   It may be part of it, but not the most important part.  I have given up on being loved as a normal individual among my peers, my family, and special acquaintances.   I will settle on sharing my love with others by my counsel, giving help in time of need and being tolerant and patient when they fail.   Hopefully somehow in my life’s example they might be able to focus upon the Love of God through Jesus Christ.    When life is over and we tally up the great things we have done, the memory that will linger is not our deeds, but the Love we left behind.    

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CHALLENGES OF MINISTRY

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A pastors reflection of his work.

 Lately, I have been faced with  some very challenging issues as I provide housing and counsel to homeless men.   I  have decided the issues are so challenging that I am planning to develop or find a different kind of ministry more appropriate to a person with my demeanor and age.   I have never been afraid to work with and face issues that are troubling and complex when it comes to people I minister with .   However there are times when one has to look at the ministry being provided and if it is no longer being effective or causes too much strain and stress to the provider, it is definitely time to change to another ministry focus. 

  When Redeeming Servant Ministries began, I thought it would be a good thing to publish a newsletter by which I could share stories of concern and celebration among those receiving the said newsletter.   I had a sincere appreciation for Jerre Nolte, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church at the time, who encouraged my ministry, and even supported it as an extension of the ministry of Grace Church.   I was invited to make the newsletter copies on the church Xerox machine and was allowed to use the same postage system used by Southwestern College and Grace Church.  Over a period of 2 years, I published monthly newsletters to approximately 300 patrons.  Some of the articles I published are still being talked about today once in a while.  Changes in the Church Administration, budgeting my time,  and the increasing costs of paper and other supplies, I found it necessary to give up that ministry focus and concentrate on another way of serving people.  

In approximately the same time frame, I began a ministry to those in Nursing Homes, Retirement Centers and the Kansas Veterans Home, using my musical interest and providing programs that I called MUSIC AND MINISTRY.    These were one hour programs that emphasized the use of my singing spiritual and secular songs accompanied with my instruments, …..piano, banjo, guitar and autoharp.   I would alternate a story with some Christian application with a song that would appeal to the elderly.   I was having evening and afternoon programs two and three times per week at these facilities.  I also took my Music Ministry to places like Wichita, Conway Springs, Arkansas City and other small town nursing homes and churches in the region.  One especially rewarding location was a nursing home in Wichita that provided services to those with HIV and AIDS.   When my health began to fail, and had to spend more time taking care of my bedridden mother, I had to give up that ministry and struggled with what my next focus would be to serve people.  I will never forget when I announced I was leaving that phase of my ministry how so many of the patients fell into tears.   This just proved to me how meaningful my work had been to them.  

It was about this same time I became certified to work with those having HIV and AIDS.  This became a secondary ministry, but never really grew all that much due to the confidentiality issues and most of the patients were moving to Wichita where they could be closer to appropriate medical attention.   For several months I served a housing community in Wichita with these patients, however it was too costly for me to continue driving the distance from Winfield to Wichita on a regular basis.

It became apparent to me about that time there were hundreds of people in Winfield that were low and very low income recipients.   Most were on a fixed income or faced with a disability of some kind or other.    I also recognized so many of these persons had no transportation to get to the food stores, to the doctors offices, to pick up commodities and other important locations, so I decided to focus upon a transportation ministry for these folks.   I was driving at the time an old Cadillac that got 9 miles to the gallon on gasoline.   I am still amazed how the Lord provided me with the resources from my own fixed income earnings to transport these persons to and from these places.    It took my good pastoral friend from Oklahoma City to point out I was being consumed by helping others to the detriment of maintaining my own financial and material needs.   After many tears and taking a closer look at how my ministry was being used and even abused, I decided it was no longer effective and that I was beginning to be disrespected.   Only rarely did anyone offer to help with gasoline and I began to get calls to take individuals to the grocery store when all they wanted was to pick up a fountain drink at a convenient store.

 For a while I floundered around trying to find my next  focus on ministry.  I was presented with the idea of establishing a blog site on which I could express myself about ministry and other issues, sort of like I did with my newsletter many years ago.   Though I enjoyed writing the blogs, they were not meeting a need I have for reaching a greater number of people and to get feedback from them on a regular basis.   I was clearly disappointed with blogging and even after many attempts to gain more followers, I discovered every excuse in the books why individuals did not sign on.   I currently have 16 followers which is a far cry from the 300 people I had when I did my newsletter, but at least it is 16 opportunities to express myself about spiritual and secular issues.   I was encouraged that I should write the blogs as a way of expressing myself and for my own enjoyment, but I have never been fond of doing a ministry for my own enjoyment  when I feel I am Called to serve others in whatever ways I can.  

Well, holding on to my blogging, I began searching for another focus for my ministry.   I have always had an ongoing ministry  doing work with Deaf individuals.   It has been rewarding for both myself and them to experience better communication through Sign Language.  I have also had some success in ministering to others by baking bread and cinnamon rolls.   There is nothing that says love any stronger than to show up with a hot loaf of fresh baked home made bread.   

I continued searching and  prepared several written proposals which were mostly ignored.   Then a friend of mine told me about a lady in need of some visitation as she did not get out much and could use the socialization.   I began visiting her and even found two others to visit on a regular or simi-regular basis. 

During the holidays,  I began to have a concern for homeless folks in the Winfield Community and thought it would be nice to invite several to a holiday dinner.   The fact is, I began to find people sleeping in tents in the inclement weather, sleeping under the bridges South of town, and many other factors lending to their homelessness.   I took a leap of faith and opened my home to many of these folks, in order for them to have shelter until they could get on their feet (so to speak) and live more independently with appropriate housing.   Most attempts I made at finding resources to help these persons failed.   The police department does not provide help, area homeless shelters (Wichita, Ponca City, Topeka, Stillwater) are full to the brim, the Winfield Ministerial Alliance is essentially ineffective since they fail to work together between the conservative and liberal factions of ministry, therefore cannot agree upon issues of consequence to the community, and though local churches recognize a need for ministering to these folks, the resources are just not there.   All is not glamour in such an endeavor……..for such a ministry subjects a home to all kinds of dysfunctional and legal issues surrounding each individual.   I have had 4 subjects arrested by the Police Department out of my home.   I have been subjected to lazy and non caring individuals who do very little or nothing to help around the house or to provide for their own upkeep.  So many are alcoholic, chain smoking, dysfunctional individuals who have no clue what it takes to provide for their own independence.   The toughest part for me is those who have mental,…… psychological or behavioral issues.   (Anger management…drug addiction,… sexual addiction,… ADHD,… Depression… Physical threats…attempts at suicide or cutting wrists or parts of the body….failure to be motivated to help themselves out of poverty to find independence,…..destructive behavior (breaking furniture or other household items), and the list goes on.   For  each individual there is a different set of issues which usually centers around some major dysfunctional thinking or behavior.    To be a care provider almost certainly includes a certain amount of disrespect and abuse by those I serve.   Unfortunately, I have grown weary of this in my own home and have decided to end the personal, in home ministry to the homeless and focus on regaining the peace, quiet and solitude of my own residence.    The fear I have is that my compassion gets in the way of my common sense at times and I will fall into the same vulnerability with others as I attempt to love and serve them as God expressed through Jesus Christ that we should.  

 I know I am not a person of great influence in this community, as I am often belittled for the attempts at ministry I do provide others.  I am not even seen as suitable for doing anything official in my own  church other than volunteer my time, etc.  My ministry is truly an attempt to do God’s work as I am called to do it..   I have never really had fear of any of these persons I serve….(having spent time in prison and having my experiences put to the fire), and with my passive, aggressive approach heavily influenced by LOVE, I guess you could say I am unique in and of myself.  I would truly admit I get frustrated, angry and even inconsistent as I deal with the low income and homeless folks I work with, and there have been some I have had to place limits on my service to them, but I can say it has been a dynamic learning experience for which I often feel unprepared except through my capacity to love them as brothers and sisters in Christ.     My  main prayer is  like the words of the Christian song……..”If I have wounded any soul today, ….If I have caused one foot to go astray,….If I have gone in my own willful way., ………Dear Lord,…..Forgive!”  

        Pray for me as I say goodbye and watch the homeless guys I am now caring for move on to independence.    Once they have moved on, I will feel like a fish out of water….looking for God to Call me into another phase of my continued ministry.   I must keep my mind open and heart willing to love and embrace the next mission of service i provide to others.     As I look back over my life, I realize it is not the big ministry projects that I have done that are most rewarding, but the one at a time opportunities to serve individuals as I find them, become personally involved, and to share the love of Christ from my own perspective.  .    

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REDEEMING SERVANT MINISTRIES NEWSLETTER

Pastoral Care for December 2013 and January 2014

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 A PASTORS MOMENT :      During the very cold weather in December, without me knowing it, the water drained out of the radiator of the car I have been using and as a result the Headers got too hot and busted.   The car would cost too much to repair and therefore I have been without a car for the past couple months.   Thanks to some of my friends that have offered to take me places I need to go, I seem to be getting by, but it is certainly not the same as having the independence to drive my own wheels.   The car was owned by my brothers friend and they tell me they are watching Craigslist and other resources for a very economical car, but unfortunately most are priced at 2 or 3 thousand dollars.   I am still praying we might find a good serviceable car that I can use in my ministry and for personal use.     It was on Thursday night a couple weeks ago, I tried riding my electric wheelchair to the Thursday night dinner at Grace UMC.    It took me one hour and fifteen minutes each way and it was a bit dangerous driving after dark without any reflectors nor lights.   Thanks to a good friend that gave me a flashlight and ear muffs that I might make the trip in reasonable safety.   I really miss my mobility scooter.

>>>>>>>I have been having several aches and pains so I went to the doctor to have it checked out.   She had blood drawn and discovered I am diabetic.   She said it is manageable but that means watching my diet.   I was hoping to avoid that inconvenience in my life.

>>>>>>>Since January 17, I have been sick with the Flu.   It seems to have done a number on me and here it is over one week later and I have not been able to stop the coughing.   Several friends have expressed concern and even brought me food, drink and medication.   I really appreciate their care and support.   I guess it is the kind of thing one just has to wait out.  

>>>>>>>Just this week, my free government cell phone went bad.   This is the third cell phone I have gotten from this government program and they do not seem to last very long.   I am glad I keep my land line phone as the old standby.

 

PASTORAL CARE ACTIVITIES :     Since the first week of December, my computer has been on the blink.   I tried to get a repair person to look at it bet he was unable to look at it until after the Holidays.   This means I was unable to post blogs during this time.   In an effort to repair the system myself, I ran a recovery disc for Windows, and to my surprise, though the computer became somewhat active again, I had lost all of my pictures and my documents which I have been saving for some months.    I am just now learning how to use the Scan Disc to save my material.   I wish I would have done it before.     Well, with the uncertainty of my computer and my health and schedules, I have decided to make a revision to my promise to post blogs on a weekly basis.   I think it would be much more sensible to post blogs when I have the time or opportunity.    Please accept my apologies if you find this a bit confusing.  

>>>>>>>My visitation list to elderly, shut-in persons,  has been growing with the addition of a couple more friends.   I look forward to keeping company with, or stopping by their homes from time to time to say hello.   Good news for Gloria…..she has now located some part time work which is wonderful news and hopefully will lead to something more for her.

>>>>>>>Casey, a young man I took off the streets and kept for almost 4 months has decided to accept the Call into the  Ministry.   He is now undergoing a course of study with the Moody Bible Institute from Chicago.   He does his work over the computer which is more convenient for him.   I pray for and encourage him to make himself ready for the Work of God.

>>>>>>>Two families have come to my home for pastoral counseling.   My prayers continue to be with these families and individuals.

>>>>>>>The emergency food pantry I have set up in my basement for use by this ministry has been getting frequent use during these past few weeks.   It is a good thing however as I need to rotate the food supply so it does not get out of date.   Eight families have asked for help during this period.

>>>>>>>One needy family called my home about 10:30 pm one night and asked if I had any left over food in my refrigerator they could eat.  They had no working stove in the house, could not cook a meal, and they were hungry.  They said some sandwiches would be okay.   At the time I had nothing prepared, so cooked them up a triple batch of Spaghetti.   I had no car to deliver it, but the dad walked all the way across town in the cold to get the fresh cooked food.    I know it must have lost some of the heat on the return trip, but I wrapped it well to try and keep it warm for them.

>>>>>>>Perhaps the most involved activity I have done during the past four weeks is to take into my home a total of seven homeless people to give them shelter from the winters cold.   One individual was found sleeping under the bridge South of town, ……another was displaced from his dysfunctional family setting and needed a place to stay….Two folks were trying to stay in a house with no utilities and came to me for shelter for 3 nights.    One person had his heat and water pipes break and asked to move into my place to stay out of the weather, and a couple others were permanently displaced as homeless and had no place to stay other than vacant buildings.    God blessed us all by giving warmth and fellowship to overcome the sub-zero temperatures.  I have a large collection of movies and thanks to some kind friends we had donations of food to feed everyone.

 Thank you for your prayers and support.   May the Lord bless you in every way.!!  

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SAD THERE IS NO FRENZY FOR JESUS

Christmas Day, 2014……what has changed over the years.    Well, what I see is the season has become more of  a commercial Imageenterprise, designed to help the businesses make a bundle of money during the few weeks before and after that holiday event.   It once was that one did not hardly mention Christmas before Thanksgiving, but these years, the commercials and street buzz begins to happen about the second week of October……if not before.    Oh yes, the business community designs it that way with their Brown and Black shopping days….pre and post Christmas sales and extended store hours.   It is disheartening to watch the mad frenzy ofImage human beings pushing through store doors with very little concern for others.   Some in fact have been assaulted by this kind of behavior.    They have selfish motives to catch the best television, or other sale item to the disregard of others.   God sent Jesus to us for PEACE on EARTH.    Where is that PEACE and how have we become so absent minded about the Love of God.    Even as Jesus walked this earth, he asked us not to lay up our treasures in material things.

      Matthew 6:19   “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.   But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.   For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”      It is easy to note how Imagethieves break into cars and homes during this season to steal the gifts purchased in the stores.   It is easy to know that not even the popular electronic equipment will last forever without being destroyed by use    It is easy to know we scramble to have the newest and most up to date items regardless whether older models still work or not.   It is easy to know we are struggling in a popularity war……the person with the newest, most expensive or most unique wins out as the hero of the block.  

     I have been caught in that “do as expected” philosophy based upon societies material encrusted mindset.   I guess that is why I hated Christmas so much as my mother did.   It was a game of  buying for everyone in the family with money I did not have and often had to stack up my credit card with extra bills.  I was always taught you try to give equally to each of the family members you love.   For a family of  20 or more that means being embarrassed by some trinket as a gift or no gift at all.   There have been years in which I would sit and cry because the social pressure became so much dictating that I should get everyone some meaningful gift.    I began to note the gifts I purchased for several individuals were returned to the store and exchanged for something else.   There is entirely too much social pressure to buy,  buy, and buy some more so the stores will be happy and the families can boast of a wonderful, gift-laden Christmas.    Talking with some young folks about Christmas as  experienced  in the 40’s and 50’s for a poor farm family, they could hardly believe and definitely did not want to have those experiences in the present day.  

      In 2001 I lived in a modest older home but I had some meaningful items upon which I cherished very much.   Some of these items were family heirlooms, rather expensive items of furniture and  paintings and drawings that adorned my walls.   In an instant, my house was burning and I lost everything.   The treasures I cherished were no longer treasures.   They were scraps of charred wood and paper beyond any use in any future home.   I was deeply hurt emotionally by the fire, but I was very thankful I still had a faith in Jesus Christ to carry on.  

      It was when I became disabled and on a fixed income that I realized I could not keep up the charade of gift buying.   I began to look around and realized not all those I was buying for did not share gifts with me.   It was financially insane to buy over 20 meaningful gifts for family and friends and to get one or two in return.    I still give some sort of gift to immediate family, but it is something I have made that costs only for ingredients, such as fudge, cookies, jelly, or pickles.   At least I have taken the anxiety out of shopping the stores for just the right gift for that specific loved one.  

       As I become more involved doing ministry with the low income folks and those on a fixed income, I note a whole lot of them skip over Christmas like a kid jumping over a crack in a sidewalk.   For so many, it is just another day and if they do not receive a charitable gift, they usually receive no gifts at all.    That is not good news to the business world.

       The story is clear that the birth of Jesus is celebrated on Christmas Day, but we find it unpopular to mention Jesus in public all Imagethat much .   So for the children, in order for them to grasp the concept of gift giving we picked up on the story of St. Nicholas and ImageSanta Clause is the common word for Christmas..    Are we doing an injustice to God and our Savior,  Jesus Christ.    When did Santa Clause with his material gifts ever take the place of Jesus coming to our world.   

       John 3:16.     For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believe in Him should not parish but have everlasting life.  

      My salvation is worth much more than any big screen television or other expensive gift.

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SHARING CHRISTMAS IN THE AIDS COMMUNITY

For at least 5 years I participated in a wonderful service provided by Dr. Donna Sweet, ….the AIDS Doctor…in Wichita.    Just before Christmas Dr. Sweet would invite Clients, and friends of the Clients, to attend a wonderful Christmas dinner at the First United Methodist Church.  It was a turkey dinner with all the trimmings of a family style meal.   It was a time for those facing Imageuncertainties about life and death to take a break and to socialize with others sharing the same dilemma.   I was invited to attend, probably because I have been certified twice as a legitimate worker with those with Hiv and AIDS.   I was also privileged to take a local young man who has Hiv.   Though we were not familiar with most of the people that attended, we were able to  make new friends and I was able to interpret for a deaf person or so, using the American Sign Language.       Part of the agenda was some sort of program provided by staff that works with Dr. Sweet and some of her clients.   Most of the time it was an opportunity to act crazy and to sing some songs.   It was certainly a good time to be held by all.     I noted the youth of a United Methodist Church in Wichita served as hosts and servers, which allowed them to learn more about knowing persons with the disease.    Each year there was a different church providing youth for the opportunity to serve this worthwhile program and dinner.   As you could imagine, there was a drawing with prizes and beyond that each participant went home with a gift and a sack of fruit and candy goodies.     Each year it was the same gift…..a beautiful ball, a Christmas ornament inscribed….”A Christmas to Remember” with the year it was given.   I am very proud of my collection of ornaments.  

     Being Christmas, there was definitely a Santa Clause where one could sit on his lap for a picture to be taken.    My picture sort Imageof overshadowed Santa by my size but it was all in fun and I got to tell Santa what I wanted for Christmas.  

     During the Spring or Summer of each year Dr. Sweet sponsored a yard party for the AIDS, Hiv Community.   It was an opportunity for friends and Clients to come together and have a wonderful outside meal, plenty of beverages and even cotton candy.   Being a yard party the menu was usually hot dogs and or hamburgers with all the trimmings.   At this event, many of the Wichita businessmen donated fine pieces of art, and other expensive items for auction.   This was a time for the businessmen and other doctors to contribute to the work Dr. Sweet does in the State of Kansas..    Some items went for a very high price, but the items were not run of the mill auction items either.   Again it was a wonderful time to socialize and to make new friends in the AIDS Community.

      Back in the late 1990;s, I enrolled in a  program for certification to be an AIDS worker.   It was so meaningful to me, I enrolled a second time and was certified a second time.   The training was with patients who were experiencing Hiv and AIDS in their lives, and Imagehelped those of us in the training to understand how to work around such clients and how to talk with them appropriately.   I thought the most meaningful part of the training was the exercises helping to get past the small talk and to delve deeper into the feelings of the individual client without being intrusive or insulting.   This is where one has a chance to challenge the heartfelt love they have for ALL human beings with no conditions attached.

      It was shortly after my certification process, I became a regular visitor at the housing development for people with AIDS or Hiv.   This was a Mennonite housing project and the apartments were usually full with a waiting list of those seeking to live in a non-discriminatory environment.   Once a month we had a meal at the apartment complex clubhouse, which was generated by a couple Catholic Nuns    I was able to form some very meaningful friendships and often was called to help a client for one reason or another.   When I visited about once a week or so, the residents knew me as Pastor Joe and was anxious to visit with me about what had happened in their lives.

      On Lincoln Avenue in Wichita is a Nursing Home that accepted AIDS patients.   Some of them were waiting out the remainder of their life.   I became a regular visitor to the home, bringing my autoharp or playing the piano to which I sang a variety of songs.   I usually brought each patient some small gift such as a small cross, a Christian bookmark or some other item that they could keep in remembrance of my visit.  Some of these patients latched on to me as a lifelong friend which was a blessing to me as well.  

      In the late 90’s it was reported to me by the Health Department and by AIDS workers in Wichita that Cowley County had at least 32 people with AIDS or HIV.   The number has lowered with the advent of better medication and the fact that most clients from Cowley County moves to Wichita where they will have greater access to Dr. Sweet, and where they are treated with more care.    I was told by a client about SRS being rude to or denied services to AIDS and Hiv patrons.   This was exactly why I was certified to recognize those kinds of abuses, and served very well as a mission of my ministry.     I simply set up a meeting between SRS and the AIDS Support Services delegate and today the treatment by SRS  (now called CFS)  is much better.    There are still people with Hiv and AIDS in Cowley County and I still visit with 3 of them on a semi-regular basis

 ——–Woe to me because of my injury! My wound is incurable! Yet I said to myself, “This is my sickness, and I must endure it.”               Jeremiah 10:19

—–But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him was blind, have caused that this man also should not die?     John 11:37

—– So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”   John 11:3       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CHILDHOOD CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

This is a catch up blog entry as my computer has been down since the first of December.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sometime around 1951, it was Christmas and our family was anticipating the big day.  My brother, Jack and I were especially excited to have Santa Clause come visit our home laden with an assortment of toys or other gifts.   We had already seen Santa visit our community as he came into town on the back of a pickup truck…..and passed out candy and fruit in small brown paper bags.  People from far and wide came to town on that occasion from the farming communities, ranches and farms to celebrate Christmas, Santa Clause and for the adults to do some much needed shopping and socializing.   That visit just helped confirm Santa would be visiting our home on the night before Christmas for sure.   

     We lived in an older farmhouse, having moved to Grenola a couple years before.  Dad was busy as a farmer and we had very limited financial resources for things like Christmas, but Jack and I were not affected by that much as we were well provided for by the Imagefamily.   We had made our usual trek into the countryside to select a cedar tree growing wild in a pasture or from along the roadside.   It had to be just the right size and the right color….not too brown from the cold weather.     The tree was set up in front of the window in the front of the house and decorated  with an assortment of used, ornaments,  and homemade garlands made of  popcorn, paper or cranberries   (We had no electricity during that year)   For an 8 year old, I was very impressed.

      One night as my dad was finishing up the chores, my grandmother and granddad came driving into the driveway.   They stayed briefly and told us grandma was going to stay and visit while granddad went to Grenola to attend a Law Enforcement Meeting.  Image Granddad was the Sheriff of Elk County in the years 1951 and 1952.   ImageSo, the family settled in to visit in the living room where the Christmas tree was located.   Grandma always had news about things in her community and life in the Sheriff’s residence and jail in Howard, Kansas.   Jack and I went about our play while the adults visited.

      All of a sudden there was the sound of bells and a loud banging on the front door accompanied with the loud sound of HO HO HO.    It surprised everyone (except grandma) and daddy went to the door to see what was going on.    As he opened the door, in stepped Santa Clause sporting a white beard and hair…with a big bag of packages, and dressed in his finest red and white suit.   My dad was so surprised he didn’t know what to say.   Santa came into the living room and  wished everyone a Merry Christmas.   He then opened up his big red bag and pulled out a package.Image    Reading from the tag, he announced he had a package for JOE.    He asked…..Is there a Joe living here?     I was so surprised I was unable to speak and could only point to myself with a few stuttering attempts to respond.   Santa then found a package for Jack and  packages for mom and dad.   He found a couple more packages each for Jack and myself and turned with a HO HO HO  and Merry Christmas to leave the house.    We were so excited with the gifts Jack and I forgot to see Santa out of our home and by the time we thought of it, he was gone.   We wanted to see the reindeer and Rudolph but as we looked on the top of the house there was no sign of them at all.   Jack, dad and I stood in amazement at the surprise visit we had gotten from Santa Clause.    It was the kind of thing that brings families together with love and special bonding that will last a lifetime.   

—–“Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”   Mark 5:19

—–“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”   Mark 5:36

—–“Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been          born to you;  he is Christ the Lord.,”   Luke 2:10

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REDEEMING SERVANT NEWSLETTER

Pastoral Care for November

Dolls were handmade as gifts by Joe        Image

A PASTORS MOMENT:     The gift of giving has always been the major emphasis for families  during the Christmas Season   Traditions have certainly changed since the early days when families didn’t have the kind of money folks spend on gifts today.   My parents would make some gifts for the family added together with the smaller gifts they could afford.   Then they would hide all the gifts until Christmas Day or keep them wrapped under the tree until we all enjoyed opening them as a family.    So many people don’t even wait until Christmas to give gifts to the spouse or children and open them as soon as they are purchased.   Then Christmas Day is just another day in their lives.  In addition,  there are events like Black Friday when families bombard the stores to purchase those expensive electronic devices and other items.   How can we say we are having hard times when people will spend upwards of $600.00 and even thousands of dollars in one days shopping spree for a few items.   I remind us all, there is among us  folks who cannot even compete with this kind of bazaar spending and  must be content on giving a card or sharing a used item with a loved one or child.  It is so depressing to many that lots of folks will simply drop out and not participate in gift giving at all. This particularly affects those on a fixed income and those without work.   In my estimation our nation has gone absolutely outrageous in desecrating the remembrance of the birth of  Jesus during the Christmas Season.   It seems to be more about getting  shoppers out to the stores in droves to purchase gifts.   It has become a financial /business fiasco that seems to totally ignore the True Meaning of Christmas.   It was the birth of Jesus that changed the world forever….not the long lines at Best Buy or Wal Mart.   It was the love of God that gave His only son that saved us…..not the year end specials or the big sales that took our finances.   It was the Angels in Glory that announced the blessed birth,……not the radio and television commercials promising a sale on everything.   Yes, times have changed, but we can rest assured God is still there for us to worship and Jesus is still making an impact on our lives if we would only listen to his redeeming message.

I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

 PASTORAL CARE ACTIVITIES:    Many blessings were shared as I ministered to people in the past month.    Due to the economy, I have continued to give food baskets to families in need.   Since the Food Pantry gives food only 6 times a year, several families come to the end of the year without resources to get food for the family…..especially when they have used their food stamp resource.   I have helped 6 families with food baskets this past month.  Since food stamps have been cut back and the economic situation finds food in the stores going up and up in price, many find it difficult to manage providing for their families.

>>>>>>I was able to introduce a client to the pastor of the First Christian Church in order that the individual might find a church home in Winfield.   Since I have a Church Without Walls, it is my mission to help folks find a meaningful church home in which to worship.

>>>>>>It appears we may have a line on a refrigerator for my deaf friend, Mike.   He has been going without a refrigerator for a few months, which makes it difficult to preserve food.

>>>>>>This seems very anti-pastoral, but I have had to inform three families they are no longer welcome in my home because they take advantage of my good nature and are very deceitful about their intent.   I had my debit card stolen again, and though I was able to get the money back through the bank, I have had to make police reports and restrict visitation.

>>>>>>I continue to visit older folks who are shut in or home bound.   It is a delight to bring a little cheer to them as we visit on a routine basis.

>>>>>>I was privileged to meet a blind client I have worked with for over 10 years in Wichita.   We went out to Pizza Hut for a meal while talking about all the things that have happened in our lives.   Steven lives in Pennsylvania and came back to Kansas for a brief visit.

>>>>>>The homeless individual I took into my home three and a half months ago has moved out this week into a place of his own.   It was a challenge to motivate him to get an additional job and to look for an apartment.   It seems people who come to my house enjoy the care I give them with cooking meals and cleaning after them.   As a result, I have decided to put an end to providing housing to people off the streets.  Though this individual was not a threat, his personal habits were unbecoming to my household.  I am glad, however, he has been able to move from being homeless to having his own place and working two jobs.

>>>>>>I am still looking forward to attending the next Ministerial Alliance Meeting to challenge them to discuss finding a plan for dealing with homeless people in Winfield.   My latest meeting with a homeless person was last week.   He is a Native American individual who is sleeping near the Walnut River until he can find other resources.   We do not have a lot of homeless folks but when one is located, we need to know how to help them find adequate shelter or provide other services.  Unfortunately our local Ministerial Alliance is not very active and does not meet except on special occasions.

>>>>>>I continue to serve in the ministry of the Grace United Methodist Church.   I am a member of the Church and Society Committee, the Caring and Sharing Committee.   I also make myself available at each Thursday Evening Meal for those in need.   Often I will bake bread, cinnamon rolls or other food items to share with the crowd.   I will be making Cinnamon Rolls for this Thursdays meal.

>>>>>>I am very thankful for gifts to this ministry provided by individuals in the community.   Those gifts include a jar of beef vegetable soup, 4 large bottles of soda pop, a container of bread yeast and a large sack of flour.   I have individuals that I want to share some homemade bread with this week or next.

Thank you for your support of my ministry and my blog site.   I remain ready to serve you in our Lord’s Work.   

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