A Powerful Presence

What hurting patients need is someone who will honestly listen to them, understand their feelings, and not hasten to change the subject.
—Richard Exley

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 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 simply 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 ...

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