Slowing Down to Serve and Be Served

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This article is part of our Winter 2021 Breaking Barriers. This installment focuses on unexpected access. If you'd like to read more stories from this issue, please subscribe to Breaking Barriers

During this pandemic, God has been removing personal barriers related to time and community in my own life and the life of someone I serve alongside.

Carolyn, who is almost 70, has been a member of Bethany Reformed Church her entire life. I grew up in Bethany and now, many decades later, I serve as Bethany’s senior minister. I have known Carolyn my whole life, but I didn’t know her well until this year. Carolyn lives with intellectual and speech-related impairments. She has remained independent her whole life, thanks to her tenacity and stubbornness. Carolyn relies mainly on the bus system, but she also knows she may call the church for a ride or help when needed. 

Even though Carolyn seldom misses a worship service or church activity and is always present, she often seems to be on the outside of the circle of fellowship. People don’t truly know her.

The pandemic has forced all of us in the church to slow down. Meetings, groups, and Bible studies have slowed way down. Because some church services can be recorded weeks in advance and I have more time for contemplation, God has been showing me it is time to slow down and refocus. 

Carolyn called me one day for some help. Normally, I would have handed her off to someone else. Because I was having difficulty understanding her request on the phone, and since everyone else was isolating at home, I went to pick her up. We had banking to do; Carolyn had left her ID card at the bank. 

As it turned out, this hour blossomed into a regular outing together over this pandemic: picnic in the park, a ride to the lake, rides to the cemetery to find her relatives. I’ve learned to listen to Carolyn as her pastor and found she communicates extremely well when given the time. Carolyn’s depth of faith is admirable and worthy of praise. 

During this pandemic, I’m grateful that God has removed the barrier of this pastor “not having time” or “not giving time.” Quite unexpectedly, God has given me access to rich blessings from a sister in Christ who normally is relegated to the sidelines.

This post was written by Rev. David Zomer (Bethany Reformed Church, Kalamazoo MI). 

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