Prays Together: Open Heart, Open Mind, Open Door
By Vaitafa Heimoana
When I received my appointment to the Exeter and Lindsay United Methodist Churches, the first thing which came to my mind were the scriptures, Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” and Matthew 25:43, “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” They bring to mind the need and hope of the members and parishioners, including the shut-ins and those not active or able to be in church. They are like the description given in Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
My ministry officially began on the first of July, 2018. On July 4th I started my pastoral visitation to the members of the Lindsay church who were at the nursing home. This date marked the journey of my life of being a pastor, a servant of God to the people of God. The following week, I visited the Exeter church members, including those who were healthy, as well as the physically sick, the elderly and the shut-ins.
The ages of my parishioners which I visit range from 80 to 100 years old. It is truly a blessing to share in their lives by hearing their testimonies about their lives, and their journeys of faith and hope in having been Christians for many years. I get to experience the hardships they came through so that the church could survive all these years. Without them the Lindsay and Exeter United Methodist Churches wouldn’t be here today.
Every Wednesday when I visit, I read to them the Psalm of the week. Some are awake and some are sleeping when I arrive. But for some, they even call me if I’m late. I ask for their favorite scriptures, hymns and songs which uplift their love for the Lord; then we sing some of them. They also share their favorite scriptures and explain why they love that text. For some, they share that it was taught by grandma, read in church, etc. Some Wednesday mornings I have read to a crowd full of elderly men and women. Next, I encourage them to have faith on their journey of life and never to lose hope in Jesus Christ.
When I meet with them, either in their own homes or nursing homes, I see them as my own grandparents. We share; we laugh; we sing; and we pray together. Sometimes, I ask for their blessings. On those Wednesdays they pray for me and my family. For most of them, they miss coming to church every Sunday, singing hymns and seeing the other members, old and new, including the youth and children. They also miss participating in Bible study, church activities, out-reach, and worshiping together as one family of God. But I hope to inspire them by bringing the church to their homes by visiting every Wednesday – plus, they are the Church (Mt 18:20, 1 Cor12:12-31, Rm 12:4-5, Eph 4:4).
As John Wesley has said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
And by the assistance of the Holy Spirit you can also accomplish and fulfill the needs of your church by visiting the elderly, lost, sick, poor, the shut-in, etc. It imitates the example of Jesus in our journey towards eternity.