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How to provide what the sick and dying need most.

My introduction to local church ministry, nearly twenty-five years ago, was a baptism by fire, or perhaps I should say, by sickness. A number of the people in the church were hospitalized, and I went to visit, to encourage, to pray. But I felt horribly out of place.

This was a world of science and medicine. What good could I possibly do? Of what value were Scripture and prayer compared to surgery, therapies, and miracle drugs? I was intimidated. Still, I faithfully visited the sick and sat with their families during those critical hours in surgery when things could go either way.

I did what I thought was expected of me-administered Scripture and prayer. Not knowing what else to do, I just tried to be there. I listened, without saying much, mostly because I didn't feel I had a lot worth saying.

Then I began receiving thank-you notes. "It meant so much to have you there when I was facing surgery." "I can't tell you how much strength I gained from your visit."

I couldn't believe it. The little ...

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