Ever since I read a story about “the ministry of presence” I’ve wanted to write some words on the subject. This afternoon I had a long conversation with Mary (my cute little step-mother who could be my daughter) about the subject. She has left her country (Peru) and her ministry (working with feeding stations for children) to follow her heart (my dad).
There is a world of difference between Peru and Sweden. In the beginning they lived in the woods, far from town. She says she felt like in a cage. Now they have moved to a town, so things are a little better. She can walk to the grocery store, and even to a health clinic, if needed. She goes to school in the mornings to study the language, together with other immigrants. She also has my sister that she can speak Spanish with. And at church a few people also speak Spanish.
Mary was excited in the beginning when she came to Sweden. She was inspired and wanted to learn the language, but then she lost her older sister and it was like her world fell apart. It’s been three years now, but if you have ever gone through a grieving process, you know it takes time to heal.
We talked about the different stages in life. I told her the story about a lady that had cancer, and due to her weakened condition and the loss of hair, she did not want to go out in public; she stopped going to church. The pastor visited her and said they needed her presence. Just by showing up at the church she was being a blessing. People were encouraged when they saw the way she was coping. “You have a ministry of presence,” said the pastor.
I feel like I have a “ministry of presence” being here with my dad and Mary. I’m not getting much of my work done but that’s okay. I’m glad that my presence can inspire. Mary misses the mothers and the children she used to work with, but I told her she now has a ministry of presence in a new place, and just being here, as a shining light for Jesus, is a work of love. At the school, with the immigrants, her smile can bring the presence of Jesus.
I have a friend who has moved to a nursing facility and is not very happy about it. She misses her old and active life. But it’s not only older people that can miss a “before” life. Even younger ones can have a crisis and lose the life they cherish and are used to. We grieve changes, and we should be allowed to do it for a time, but then we need to move on. It’s not easy but it’s the right thing.
Where do you have a ministry of presence? Think about it!
Mary’s orchid that I get to enjoy during my stay in Sweden