Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath annointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he had sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
About a year after I was called by God to preach, a door of opportunity opened up for me to preach at a local nursing home. As I walked down the hall to the chapel area, my eyes were filled with tears of compassion for the condition of the folks I encountered. Over the next few years, the Lord opened doors in nursing homes in several surrounding cities whre I ministered for a season. Yet, this first nursing home I preached at was to remain part of my ministry for fifteen years.
One thing about nursing homes is that the folks come just as they are. Some in wheelchairs, some on walkers, some walking or being pushed in wheelchairs by another resident. It was a supreme effort for many to be at a church service and the Lord looked with favor upon our times together. I had to be the choir director, the Sunday School teacher, the special singer, and the preacher. The Lord surely taught me many things during this ministry.
We never took an offering, yet one particular lady would always present me with something. It might be a penny, a soda cracker, a piece of candy, or a coupon for something. She had a nervous breakdown when her Mama ran off with her husband. This special lady had been well-educated, she could speak Greek, could play the piano, and sing fairly well. She would always dress in her choir robe when she came to the service. I believe the Lord has a special place in Heaven for folks like her.
Brother Dixon would be at the front waiting on me to arrive. He couldn’t or wouldn’t talk but when the songs were being sung, he’d sing right along with everyone else. His favorite was “Amazing Grace”. When I would preach and state a truth, he would shout “Amen” and “Right about that!” Other than that, he wouldn’t carry on a conversation. HIs job was to carry my Bible to the chapel. When he saw me, he would give out a great big smile and reach for the Word. He would lay it in his lap and I would roll his wheelchair to this spot. He always wanted to be right in the front. The “Amen corner” I called it. He’s been in Heaven for some time now but his faithfulness, despite his handicaps, remains with me forever. He was an inspiration.
Charlie was a cripple with a severe speech impediment. His mind was sharp and he loved the Lord. He especially enjoyed the songs. When I first met him, he was a bit grouchy but over the years, the Lord did a great work in his life. He became a sweet brother in Christ. I got to where I could understand some of his speech. When I would ask those folks to remember my Mama in prayer, tears would roll down his cheeks as I saw his lips move in prayer. He would always ask, “How is your Mama?” One of his favorite songs was “Hallelujah Square”, particularly the verse, “I’ll see all my friends in Hallelujah Square, what a wonderful time we’ll all have up there, we’ll sing and praise Jesus his glory to share and there won’t be a cripple in Hallelujah Square.” He knew one day he would be made whole and would be free from his crippled body. Last year, 2002, the Lord called him home. I had the special mission of preaching at his funeral. He was a dear friend and I’ll see him again one day.
Over the years of the nursing home ministry, I’ve seen many come and go. Not all died, some recovered and went back home. Some were transferred to other facilities.
Many of these precious people had a really close relationship to the Lord. Their hardships had made them draw near to the Lord and exercised their faith. I’m glad those people prayed for me.
Isaiah 61:3: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”