Sometimes it feels like nothing we do or say can make a difference. Turn on the TV and it’s a wave of suffering. Open the newspaper and sadness spills from every page. In our relationships and in our lives: we see people hurting and we want to help, but don’t know how. We’re scared of reaching out in case we make things worse.
This is one reason why church matters. Individually, we’re weak, isolated and afraid. But together we’re strong. We give each other courage – and each gesture of kindness knits together, like a blanket that wraps around the vulnerable and the sick.
Here’s a few examples of church blanketing that friends have shared:
‘I remember a friend when I first told him my story just holding me and crying with me, and I’ll never forget that. He was willing to hold some of my pain as my brother, and that gave me courage to stand’.
‘I was in a young woman’s bible study over the past year or so which was an absolute lifeline..we were all hungry and we all almost unspokenly agreed that we would be real. There was also an incredibly wise, godly, gentle older woman who led us’.
‘My church leader and a woman from my church came to read the bible with me … That was great because I got to discover Gods grace for the first time, often with lots of people from the hospital listening in to my amazement at the Word and tears! Thinking back it is an amazing picture of the way God can work to show people his glory’.
What has helped is the total acceptance of a few friends, who even if they can’t understand will listen, offer comfort, pray with you, love you, ensure they have time for you and your family. Who keep in contact, even when I can’t respond. Those little texts. The watching of a DVD together. A meal at their house. A shoulder to cry on’.
‘Being encouraged by church, sometimes as simple as just turning up and being reminded through singing, the Bible etc that there is hope in Jesus. Serving in church keeps me focused on what I was created to do and reminds me what is important. I also find encouraging Bible verses that have helped me in the past’.
‘Other Christians .. give me hope that freedom is possible and confirm to me God’s goodness again and again through the way they treat me’
‘Telling my church friends was invaluable, especially where they had experienced similar issues. I was able to confide, cry and pray with them (or just cry as they prayed). It was a beautiful but painful place to be. I am so thankful to God for their wisdom and love’.
‘My Church saved me, they took me to the doctors and stood with me on the path to recovery. For the first month of being in hospital I received a letter daily from one of my fellow Church Interns. These letters showed me love and community like I never knew before. I believe Jesus would have been very proud of my Church and the love they showed me. The Church have supported me in a way that my non-Chrstian family cannot comprehend, they don’t understand why people that are not related to me would go out of their way to give me a home, money and relationships.’
‘Without the relationships I have in my life I would not be here. I was in a very bad way when living and working for a church internship, my ministry pastor stood in and took me to hospital where I was later admitted. Without this tough love I would not have got better. My Church community has been the biggest help of all, having people that will love you, pray for you and give you somewhere to live. They also gave me tough love, making sure I got the help that was essential… They only did this because of Jesus; He taught them how to love people as they would want to be loved. I truly believe without them I would have been much sicker before I ended up in hospital and would have found it much more difficult to get better’.