“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” (John 6:12)
It was at the end of a service in our home Church, when the Pastor said that if anyone needed prayer to raise his or her hand. A woman who was crying softly had raised her hand a few rows in front of us.
“Sister Candy, would you come and pray for this young lady?” the Pastor asked.
My wife went forward, put her arms around the young lady, and began to pray. When she returned to my side, she whispered, “I know her. Her name is Loretta. She used to work with me years ago when I worked at K-Mart.”
After the service, we found out that Loretta had a son about the same age as our daughter, and we developed an instant bond with her.
A few weeks later, we were together during Church, when a mighty presence of the Lord fell upon the congregation. There was a gentleman to my left that had his hands uplifted to God and was saying, “I love you Lord, I love you.”
He had a yearning in his voice that seemed to say, “I want to love you more.”
Then once again, I was in the Spirit and began to have a vision of the Lord.
In this vision, as the gentleman was reaching up toward Heaven saying, “I want to love you more”, the Lord was reaching down from Heaven toward his hand, when suddenly the Lord’s hand changed, and it became the hand of a beggar, then changed to the hand of a child dressed in rags, then to the hand of an elderly person.
The Lord then spoke and said, “Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” and then the vision ended.
At the end of the service, I shared with the congregation what the Lord had shown me: that we can love Jesus more by loving those in need; that we can touch Jesus by touching those in need. I invited anyone who was willing, to come and go with us to our next nursing home service.
There were a few who accepted my invitation, including Loretta.
I believe that it takes a person with a special gift of faith to minister to those in great need on a regular basis; not to look at the need and say, “why?”, but to look at the need and say, “Look what God can do.”
Loretta was such a person. We discovered that she was a gifted singer and she began going and singing with us regularly in the nursing homes.
Soon after Loretta joined our ministry team, the Pastor of our Church came to me and said, “Bro. Candy, we have a minister that has just begun attending our services and I want to introduce you to him. His name is Bro. Allen, he’s a former Pastor from Austin, Texas, and I believe that he might be interested in helping your ministry.”
I met Bro. Allen and we instantly became friends. He also had a great burden and compassion for the elderly and infirmed that were confined to nursing homes. He began going and preaching with us as well, and our ministry team was complete.
Not long after, I was having my morning time of Bible reading and I was reading the account in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John where Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes.
The twelfth verse reads, “When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” Those words leaped off the page to me.
The people we were seeing in the nursing homes: the lonely, the sick, the elderly; these were the broken fragments that remain. The Lord wanted us to gather them up quickly, that nothing be lost.
We needed to reach more, sooner, before it was too late. And what about the fragments that weren’t in a nursing home?
The home bound, the bedridden, the disabled and chronically ill; these too needed the anointing, deliverance, and message of salvation that we were bringing to the homes.
That evening I shared with all those in our ministry team what the Lord had shown me, and God began to give us a plan for the Servants of the Lord. We determined to hold our “revival” style services in all the nursing homes in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area of Texas USA.
The Lord began to open doors for us: Dallas, Garland, Richardson, Mesquite, Arlington, Grand Prairie, and Ft. Worth; there were hundreds of homes in these cities in this area of Texas and we began scheduling services months in advance.
And then there was the radio.
The Lord provided us with the equipment and we began to record our live services in the nursing homes and broadcast them over the radio. The Lord opened doors to a radio station in Dallas and one in McKinney for the “Servants of the Lord” radio broadcast.
The singing, the preaching, and the altar call: we would record it all and then divide the service up into segments so that in one weeks’ time the entire service could be heard over the radio.
We scheduled our services for the weekend, and then on weekdays Bro. Allen and I would go back to the nursing homes and visit room-to-room, sharing Jesus and praying, and turning their radio dials to the station that carried our program if they so desired.
Letters and phone calls began to come in by the hundreds from people whose lives had been touched or changed through the radio broadcast. We were beginning to see the fragments gathered in.
Although every precious soul that we met could be a story in and of itself, one dear lady stands out in my mind.
I had met her in her room because she could not go to the service. She was legally blind, and so crippled with arthritis that she was confined to bed.
Her sight was so, that she could only see like a small peep-hole through one eye, and yet even though it was a struggle, the attendants would prop her Bible up in front of her so that she could read one word at a time.
She told me that she would imagine the whole page, and what it must look like with all of the words on it.
When not trying to read, she spent all of her waking hours, lying there and praying for all those she knew and all the others in the nursing home. What a prayer warrior. When you walked into the room, you could feel the anointing of God.
She reminded me of the little lady in the Bible that anointed the feet of Jesus: “She hath done what she could.” (Mark 14) Jesus said that her deed should be mentioned wherever the Gospel was preached. I felt the same way about this saint of God.
At her request, I turned her radio dial to the station that our broadcast came on. She later told me what a blessing our broadcast was to her; that it made her feel like she was in the service and that it encouraged her to pray for all the people in all the other nursing homes as well.
I wished that I could tell you every nursing home we went to was clean and well-staffed with caring individuals, but I can’t.
I was beginning to see why the Lord called these precious souls “the fragments”.
If Jesus had not given the commandment that day to “gather up the fragments that remain”, they would have been thrown away.
In the smaller, independently run homes in the country or suburban towns, we had become accustomed to seeing the elderly treated for the most part with respect.
Most of the nursing homes we went into were run by loving, compassionate people, but in the big cities, especially in the large, modern homes run by the corporations, we would sometimes see man’s inhumanity to man.
Oh, they were clean and nice when it was visitation time or on the weekends when churches would hold services, but when Bro. Allen and I began going back to the homes during the weekdays to visit room to room, we were sometimes appalled at what we saw.
Once, after conducting a worship service in a very ultra-modern facility in North Dallas, we returned on Monday to find a large group of residents in geriatric chairs gathered into an open area, both men and women, unclothed with only a towel for cover.
Several of their towels had fallen to the floor, and they were calling for help, for someone to please cover them up. Bro. Allen and I began to cover them as some were apologizing and saying they were so ashamed.
We assured them that they had nothing to be ashamed of; it wasn’t their fault, as we looked for the ones who were responsible for this shameful treatment. We finally found a worker who nonchalantly answered, “Oh, they’re just waiting for their showers.”
We began to understand that winning souls to Christ was not the only reason the Lord had sent us to the nursing homes. When the homes began to realize that we might drop in anytime to do room to room visitation, we began to see a change.
We never saw this particular situation happen again.
The Bible says that we all shall give an account before Him one day for the deeds done in our body.
In Matthew chapter 25, the Lord tells of the time when He shall come in His glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before Him, and He shall separate them into two groups, as a shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats.
To the righteous on His right hand, He will commend them for the good deeds they have done. To the unrighteous on His left hand, He will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not…Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
God requires that we care and not turn away, that we reach out and affect a change where we see the need. If we do this as unto the Lord, then His kingdom will come nigh, “…and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17)
(TO BE CONTINUED)