The Smallest Acts
At times during my 40 years of ministry, I would become discouraged and wonder if I was really making a difference. Serving in law enforcement chaplaincy over the years, I have encountered many first responders who have voiced the same feeling.
A few weeks ago, I got a lesson that even the smallest act we share can make a difference. A Facebook post popped up asking whether I had pastored in Centerville 30+ years ago. The man posting told me he had been searching for me. He was the brother of two boys who died in their teens from muscular dystrophy. He is now in seminary and said he never forgot that I had prayed for him way back then!! WOW!!
I remembered during my time with the three brothers and their sister, I had felt hopeless ministering to the family because the two boys had no chance of survival. A “ministry of presence” was all I could offer. I have often thought about Michael and Paul and their powerful witness to me as they faced death a couple of years apart. Now their brother was reaching out to me and thanking me for my prayers.
I was reminded that all of us are called to do what we can and leave the rest to God. In a beautiful Guideposts story, Herman Rosenblatt shares that he would have died in a Nazi concentration camp as a young teen if it had not been for a young girl who came every day to toss him an apple or bread to eat. When he was liberated, he knew he had survived because of that girl. He never got her name.
After liberation, Herman came to America, served in the Korean War, and opened a business. One day he reluctantly went on a blind double date as a favor to a friend and found out his date had been through the same thing. Herman and his date both knew that they were Jewish survivors of the Nazis.
He told her he had been in “the camps.” She told him of being hidden as a Christian on a family’s farm. She said, “There was a camp next to the family’s farm. I saw a boy there, and I would throw him an apple every day.” Yes, it was her, his angel, “who had given him hope in a place where there was none.”
Herman proposed to her on the spot. “I’m not letting you go,” he told her. Her response was, “You’re crazy.” However, after 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, he could say, “I have never let her go.”
Isn’t God good! When we do something as simple as saying a prayer or throwing a crumb of food over a fence, God uses us to make a difference. Sometimes it’s the smallest of acts against the backdrop of pain, hurt and hopelessness that makes a difference. We may never know the difference we’ve made, but sometimes… just maybe!
Dr. Houston is the Senior Chaplain with the Georgia Department of Public Safety (Georgia State Patrol/Motor Carrier Compliance Division). www.chaplaincharles.org
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