2 Timothy 1:7 – For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (NRSV)
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (NRSV)
I have recently completed an eight-week pastoral visitation-training programme and have learned a great deal. I have always enjoyed talking and listening to people, as every person has a story to tell. We just need to take the time to sit down and listen — to really listen — with our eyes, our ears and our hearts.
After the completion of the course, some people in the group chose to visit the hospitals, some to visit the old age homes, some to visit the shut-ins and some, the prisons and the mental health institutions.
Because there was a high demand for pastoral visitors at the mental health institutions, I chose to serve in that area. I believe in my heart that this is where God wanted me to go, as I had no fear whatsoever. My next step was to make a doctor's appointment and to get tested for TB and get my shots, which were a requirement by the mental health hospital.
As my initial appointment came closer to reality, I noticed that fear was starting to creep into my mind. But fear is not of God, as God is a God of peace and love.
My first visit with my client went very well. I remember wondering what to say and how to start a conversation, but God always works things out beforehand. My client was the one who started the conversation by looking at me and saying, "Well, tell me a little about yourself!" And so I did. The conversation between us flowed easily and before I even realized it, an hour had passed. Most of the time I just listened, as my client shared parts of his life story with me. When the visit came to an end, my greatest reward was that my client wanted to see me again. What an honour and a privilege to serve our God and our fellow human beings in this way!
We all have a story; we all have something to share. May we take the time to listen with our eyes, our ears and our hearts and say, "Hello in there, tell me a little about yourself."
Prayer: Heavenly Father, be with us always, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Grant us peace, grant us wisdom and grant us the courage to serve each other in love. Amen.