Serving the Aging, the Disabled, and Those Who Care for Them in the Name of Jesus Christ
May 26, 2022 Anno Domini
Greetings to our Friends and Supporters,
The Lord said in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Volumes have been written over the years on this one verse. To me it’s fairly simple. When we go through life believing and living the Gospel, especially when considering not only our own troubles but the troubles of others, we become poor in spirit.
We realize we are nothing without God and his providential care. Take God’s sustaining force away and all falls apart. Think about this. Without good health you become disabled in one way or another. Life changes. Who gives health anyways, science? Hardly. It is the Almighty ruler of all the molecules, atoms, DNA, and organs in our bodies. It is the life-giving force of the spirit God places in men and women he has created.
Many of the people we serve are poor in spirit, even if they are relatively happy or satisfied. Some are sad too. Why? Because they are declining in health. Some are disabled and at a standstill physically. Others with debilitating diseases are starting to see the end of road for this earthly life. Some folks are simply starting the dying process which might take a month or five years.
Many people in personal care situations are saddened by what they feel is a lack of interest in them by their families. Maybe true, maybe not true. I have seen lots of this frustration. I have seen battles between children. I have seen loveless people neglect their parents. I have seen a few bad parents suffering the consequences of a life lived badly on earth, even if they possessed plenty of possessions. I have seen family members improperly place people in the wrong type of facility. And let’s be honest. Most personal care facilities now are really “impersonal” care facilities.
What is the advantage of being poor in spirit? It leads one to God through Christ, or if one is a believer, to draw nearer to our Lord. Francis (Fanny) Crosby was the most prolific hymn writer in American history. She was blind. She wrote the grand hymn with the refrain,” Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord to the cross where thou hast died; Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord, to thy precious bleeding side.”
If I have tried to do one thing over the last 12 years, it is to try to help people find the Lord and walk closely with him, even while living in difficult circumstances. I think this is what being poor in spirit is. It is living in and accepting a world that is a combination of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. It is trusting God but also realizing there are many unanswered questions about his providence.
In the first half of 2022, we lost a few people who were icons in our mission. Some of you have read about them in my e-mails or on our web site. Still others will not make it through this year. Some of the people in our Fellowship have to look forward to living with a serious physical disability for good.
The purpose of this Fellowship is still to give the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to sinners and saints alike in religious services (130 plus per year – 7 places), personal visits (about 400 per year), and charitable deeds. Martin Luther once said, “I preach the Gospel daily, because people forget it daily.” It has been a purpose of mine to constantly re-affirm the Good News to the people of our mission.
These people represent who we serve in St James Fellowship. They have various backgrounds, various disabilities, and various personalities. Uniquely created in the image and likeness of God. Like all of us, sinners in need of his grace and fellowship.
Our world, our parish, is the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Please help us to continue. The people that we serve cannot give much because of their circumstances. It is generous individuals and a few churches that keep us moving forward. For those of you who support us regularly and help this mission continue, we thank you. Some of you have done this for many years and we are grateful to God that you have entrusted us to do the work of ministry.
Rev. John Patterson
Director and Field Minister,
St. James Fellowship