A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an ambulance over at the old apartment building near our house. At the time, I thought I should go over a while later and see if there was anything that we could do for the family. I guess yesterday was a while later.
As I was taking a load of my dirty clothes down to the basement, I felt a sudden conviction that I should follow through on that idea.
As I walked across the pasture, I surveyed the parking lot. None of the vehicles I saw seemed to be less than ten years old, with most being closer to twenty or more. Though the exterior of the converted stock barn has been painted in recent years, the sixteen or so apartments show some signs of un-restored abuse.
The screens have a ragged look and the frames are dinged and scraped. The entries have no covering; there is just a small slab of concrete outside the door. As I walked to the apartment where the ambulance had parked, I felt a heavy sadness, a deep sense of intense needs and oppression. As I neared the door, a forty-ish woman and a teenage boy stepped out from their door at the next unit.
She was smoking a cigarette, talking on a cell phone. As I knocked on her neighbor’s door, she called out, “They’re not there; they’re around on the other side, drinking.” As I hesitated, I heard her say to whomever she was talking to, “After you get the beer, come on over here.” Walking closer, I could see the details of leathered skin, frayed hair and the dullness in the eyes that often belies a hard life uneased by a few diversionary habits.
“Is this the apartment where the ambulance came a couple of weeks ago?”
“Yeah, that’s it. Grandpa had another one of his spells,” she responded. I introduced myself and told her that my wife and I go to church just over the hill here. “I thought maybe it might be someone that needed some prayer.”
Her face softened instantly and she nodded her head quickly. “Oh, he sure does.” Even though the elderly man is not actually her grandfather, he’s dealing with depression, breathing problems and heart problems. I asked for his name, then met Rose and Ben. She thanked me and then went back inside her apartment as if she suspected I might soon want to ask about her spiritual condition.
We live in a world more open to prayer than to the gospel. Perhaps, responding to the first might help pave the way for the second.