Did you ever wonder what ministry looks like in Dulce, NM?
I can guarantee that it often doesn't look much like ministry in many places I've attended church. Sure, some things are the same: Sunday services, children's programs, the occasional wedding, hospital visitations, and funerals. My role, as pastor's wife, includes parts in some of those events. I help lead the children's programs and sometimes read Scripture or greet on Sundays.
However, much of what happens in Dulce is quite different from how I've seen ministry in other places. A good example of this kind of ministry happened a few weeks ago. It started with a knock on the back door while my husband was away...
I stopped my lesson plan preparations and went to the door. Seeing a man who occasionally stops by for some food, often while intoxicated, I grabbed my house keys and told my 10 year old, "I'm going out to talk to someone. I'm locking the door." I didn't lock the door because I'm afraid of this man; I locked the door because I am protective of our daughter. Alcohol affects decision-making, and I never want her to pay the price for my choices.
The man did want something to eat, so I left him on our comfortable patio with shade and a bench and came back inside to make some sandwiches. I told my daughter that I was making a lunch for this man, and she pitched in to peel some carrots. I left her back inside while I took a plate out to our visitor.
I pulled out a lawn chair and sat opposite the man after I handed him the plate. He said, "You're going to sit here with me? You don't have to." After reassuring him that I indeed wanted to sit with him, he made comments about how nice I was. I tried turned his thoughts to why I chose to sit with him: This is what Jesus tells us to do in the Bible. Feed the hungry. Visit the prisoner. Touch the untouchable. I sat with him because it is what Jesus wants me to do, and I am being changed by Jesus every day. It was not a burden to sit with the man and talk to him while he ate.
And that is the biggest experience I've had with ministry on the Rez: I am being changed. I didn't begrudge the two hours I spent talking with this man. I don't sit with my lonely elderly friend wishing I were somewhere else or that I could extract myself quickly. I don't bemoan my commitment to the time our children's program fills. Jesus is changing my heart, opening my life to service that I never expected.
During those two hours on the back patio with this intoxicated man, we spoke of the Bible (He knows a lot about Scripture!), his life choices (He knows that he could do so much more.), and death (He was grieving the loss of a friend.). I don't know if those two hours made any difference to his eternal state, but I know they made a difference to mine. Christ used my humble sandwiches and time to serve the needs of another, and blessed me in the process. I pray that He will continue to work in my life to serve others here in Dulce.