The Creative “Touch”
A gentle pat on the shoulder…the tender squeeze of the hand…a reassuring hug…all of these minister to us when we are struggling with sadness or anxiety. So, in this season of social distancing, many of us feel the frustration of not being able to offer the gift of human touch. But when we can’t do all we want to do we can’t let it stop us from doing all we can.
Such was the mindset of Roby and Robin Bass two weeks ago when they visited the home of Gloria and Johnnie Lewis, playing the guitar and sharing comforting words of familiar hymns like “Amazing Grace”, “What a Friend We Have In Jesus”, “How Great Thou Art” and “It Is Well.”
After the worship experience, Gloria and Johnnie’s brother, who was visiting that day, expressed their deep appreciation. It was one of the last visits Johnnie would have from his church family as he went on to be with the Lord only a few days later.
While this experience was unique in its nature (and incredibly touching for both families) it reflects the DNA of our Sunday Groups, where both families have belonged. Led by Robert and Melinda Nix, this close–knit group have a pattern of loving and serving one another in practical and comforting ways.
Almost five years ago, members of this class launched a ministry to assist others who, for whatever reason, needed help around their homes. The first beneficiary was a class member, who had been recently widowed. A group of men and women from the Nix Group met at her home to trim trees and do minor repairs. They, formed under the leadership of Mike Freshwater, Terry Wooten, Robert Nix and Steve Greene soon began to grow, nicknaming themselves “Git-er–Done Ministries”. The idea was to see what they could accomplish with as many men in as few hours as possible on Saturday mornings.
When a male member of their Sunday Group was diagnosed with cancer, he and his wife decided to sell their home so the wife could – at the appropriate time – move nearer to her daughter in Wylie. About 20 men from “Git-er-Done Ministries” descended on their home on a Saturday morning, adding mulch to flower beds, repairing fences, trimming trees and sprucing up the house to be listed for sale.
A short time later, when another member of the class needed assistance, the group assembled to repair his backyard fence and gate and repaint it.
Each time a workday was scheduled, 15 – 20 men from the Sunday Group would put in two or three hours of their time, energy and resources to help out those who were struggling.
About three summers ago, when Johnnie became unable to mow his own yard, Mike Freshwater organized the men of “Git-er Done” into two-man teams to mow every Saturday. Mike and Roby served on one of those teams and when the mowing was complete, they would sit in the driveway and talk with Johnnie.
“That’s how I discovered his love for music,” Roby says. “I learned that Johnnie led music at one of their former churches. He loved to sing and loved gospel music.”
When they moved to the retirement village a few months ago,” he continued, “I asked Gloria if I could come over with my guitar and sing some hymns with them. Little did I know Johnnie could not hold enough air anymore to sing much – but he certainly would try!”
When Roby showed up, he also found that Gloria had invited about a dozen widows and girlfriends from around her apartment complex. They sat on the patio and sang hymns for over 45 minutes.
“It was wonderful!” says Roby.
As Johnnie’s condition worsened, faithful members of the Sunday Group continued to love and check in on Gloria and her husband. Some, like Jerry and Terry Fisk have known this couple since their school days. Others who were faithful to minister to this family include Greg and Beverly Warren, Joel and Mary Ann Baker and Gloria’s close friend, Martha Arwine. These and many other members have consistently walked with this family through their struggles and battles.
In Johnnie’s final days, the members of this Sunday Group continued to minister in creative ways.
“I feel God moves through music to deep parts within us – whether we’re conscious or not,” says Roby. “Robin and I werehonored to go and sing over Johnnie.”
It might not have been a hug, but there’s no doubt that Johnnie and Gloria were touched.
For information on how to join a Sunday Group or Connect Group – contact Kevin Phillips.