How do you cope with all the suffering and pain you witness every day?
There is no question about the fact I suffer along with the people I help. The Scriptures tell us to weep with those who weep and many times we do exactly that in my ministry. It is often very emotionally draining. However I find the Scripture to be true where it says as your day so shall your strength be.
I am also rewarded in my work by witnessing the grace of God in the lives of the people I help and I realize that God is at work. This also sustains me. There are many people who faithfully pray for me and the Lord answers their prayers—this is very important.
People whom I help often write me letters of appreciation and I find these letters to be most encouraging. I also believe that my suffering in this life is only for a time.
The Scripture says that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. I am sustained by this great hope that some day God will wipe away all tears from our eyes and we shall rejoice in His presence forever.
Why would you ever want to get into this ministry?
First of all, I view my work as a calling from God. It is not something I simply decided to do on my own. The Lord has given me a great desire to reach out to people in pain and assist them through their tragedy.
In 1 Corinthians 12:28 there is the only reference in the New Testament to the gift of helps. The word used there means one who gives aid. I believe that I have this gift and I need to exercise it faithfully. The Lord has confirmed my calling by prospering my efforts to reach out to those in need.
How do you prepare yourself for such a work?
The Lord has prepared me for this work by giving me difficult life experiences. I know how the Lord has helped me through those trials and I can offer that counsel to others. I speak with the voice of experience and that gives a real authenticity and authority to my counsel.
Also I have read many books, studied the Scriptures and have witnessed others coping well with adversity and have learned from their experiences. I cannot emphasize enough the primacy of prayer in my work. I fervently pray for those to whom I minister. This is a whole ministry in itself.
What kinds of people do you help?
The people I help are from various walks in life. The most of them have no church or spiritual counsellor to turn to in their distress. This is the role I fulfil. The kinds of situations I encounter are diverse.
Many people suffer from life threatening illness. Some are single parents trying to raise children on their own and face the tragedy of divorce as best they can. Some have suffered from disease or accident and are now having to cope with a very different life style and often face financial hardship. Others are suffering from spiritual depression and struggle to face each day wondering if the Lord has forsaken them.
How do you connect with these people?
Many people are referred to me by others who know I do this type of work. They may have a friend, neighbour, or relative in trouble and ask me to help. Sometimes someone who has been helped calls me to visit another person who is suffering.
One time when I was preaching at a certain church I had four people come to me after the service to ask for help. Also some ministers who know of me will make referrals. It is seldom that I go looking for opportunities. They come to me.
What do you say to someone who is in pain?
First of all I do not walk in as the great problem solver who has a magic wand to wave. I seek first to give practical advice that deals with real life issues. Do they know the extent of the problem, what are they presently doing to help themselves? When it’s a person who tells me they are dying I ask them about the executor to their estate. Is their will current? And so on.
In other words I try to be of help in things temporal. This gives the person the sense that I have my feet on the ground. Then I try to determine if they are believers in the Lord Jesus. If they are, then I speak about the wonderful promises in Scripture for people in their circumstances.
The Psalms and portions of Isaiah are very helpful here. If they are not Christians then I seek to point them to the Saviour. Luke’s Gospel is very important here as he speaks much about people in adversity and how the Lord assists them. I assure them that I will help them through the problem and will visit until they have resolution to the issue facing them.