the ministry

There’s always a hodgepodge of personalities milling around the Outreach ministries. It’s a place in our community where families donate what they no longer use, it’s sold in a thrift store and the money made goes to help those who need food or gas or clothes. I love everything about it.  

The volunteers are a colorful medley of retirees and grandmothers and widows. I walked through the doors a few weeks ago to cover a story for the newspaper about an addition they added onto their property. I know the ladies well. I’ve worked side by side with them.

The mayor and the town manager and government officials lined the walls of the modest building. They said kind words. I clicked my camera at all the right photo ops, but I scanned the crowd for the faithful faces that are always there. I found Lucille working behind the scenes, as usual. 

I aimed my camera in her direction, trying to be discreet. She deserves to have her name in bold italic and run front page for all she does.

“No ma’am, stop that right now!” she whispered. She had caught me.   

Then I cornered Opal.

I put the lens down and stood beside her.

“Please answer a couple of questions; I really want to put your name in the paper,” I pleaded.

I want others to know she’s volunteered there longer than anyone and that she shows up early and leaves late. I want others to know she pulls boxes off shelves that are too heavy for her to lift and she drags them into storage. I want people to know that I’ve seen her clean the toilet and sweep the dusty floors.

I reach for my pen hoping to get at least one good quote that’ll allow me to brag on her for a  few sentences.

She paused and gently placed her soft wrinkled hand on top of mine.    

“Honey, I don’t do this to get my name in the paper,” she said with a smile. And then she scooped up my toddling son who was pulling at her pant leg. She held him close and walked out of the room, in search of something sugary to give him I assumed. 

I wish her wisdom would seep into his little body instead.  

She’s not interested in the recognition. She’s interested in the serving.

‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink’…Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?…’Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35, 37, 40


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