Friday, December 16, 2016

Rivers of Encouragement

Last month, I posted a blog titled “Twenty Years Without a Word” where I chronicled my search for a long lost friend. This blog is an update.

There was no defining moment when my friend and I decided to walk separate paths, he as a Roman Catholic priest and I as a Protestant Evangelical. I take full responsibility for the lapse in contact. I can only speak from my viewpoint. Life just happened.

There were kids, grandkids, schooling, marriages, supporting a family while the thought of others, that we normally contact infrequently, slips further away from our daily life. Suddenly it’s twenty years later with no contact, and you begin to wonder Is he still alive? Worse is the blame that overcomes us because we carry the full burden of failure. That’s not supposed to happen between true friends and those who have had an impact on one’s life.

As my earlier blog pointed out, I found my friend in a nursing facility in New Jersey run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. My friend is anti-technology and no longer owns his ancient typewriter. Communication is difficult, but when we did connect by phone. It was great and emotional. The conversation felt like we picked up where we had left off twenty years ago.
A few days later I received a Facebook posting from a young man I consider a miracle because God transformed his life in a powerful way. Today he serves in a church in New Jersey. His posting said “Thank you for all that you poured into me!” I was touched by his remembrance.

I take no credit for his life transformation. The Lord receives all the glory for how his life turned out. The young man made right choices, and I just stood alongside of him like a cheerleader. His “Thank You” was a powerful reminder of encouragement to continue fighting the battles that try to destroy people’s lives.

All this brought me back to my priest friend. I set upon a mission … contact people who may have been blessed by my friend’s ministry. It needed more than a trickle of encouragement; I wanted the experience to feel like a river!

Our son in New Jersey went to visit my friend. I called and texted people who knew him and suggested they drop him a card for Christmas, make a phone call or visit if they could.

Galatians 6:9 reminds us: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Those who labor for the Lord sometimes face discouragement and weariness and do not see results of their hard labor. Take this Christmas season to encourage a pastor or a ministry leader in whatever way you feel comfortable. There is no right or wrong way. At a minimum, we can pray a river of encouragement would flow into their lives!
Merry Christmas
Robert Parlante

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