Rosa is a friend who I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with in the last week especially. She has severe dementia and has the exciting habit of wandering off around town. What’s extra cool about this pattern is that she tends to stay in public places, on main streets, and in conversation on a frequent basis with nice people. Because of this she has made literally thousands of acquaintances with people around Merced, made children smile, helped the homeless with a meal, made sad people laugh, and loosened up the up tight. I truly love “Rosie” and had the opportunity along with Geri, Lenora, and Sam in particular as well as a new friend, Joseph, to touch down into Rosa’s life in a meaningful way this week. Lord-willing she is safer and better cared for in the facility she’s been placed in French Camp, California.
Something stood out to me as I stood watch for hours to make sure Rosie didn’t get lost any more until she was placed in this facility… Rosie only kept wandering off due to being lonely for community and companionship. She asked me yesterday, “Are you leaving? I hope not because I’m tired of people being nice to me and then leaving me.”
It’s easy to feel bad for people in hard places, but it’s a whole different and more meaningful labor of love to make a difference for people in hard places, particularly through relationship and friendship and the creation of community for them. Friendship is often a far deeper need for these folks, my friends, than just another hand out or even hand up.
As I sat in my car after getting four hours of sleep and asking thousands of people to consider taking a shift of watching Rosie’s door to make sure she didn’t wander off, I began to cry as I thought of how many with far less publicity get far less attention than Rosie and suffer from severe loneliness. The Facebook post about Rosie going missing garnered over 560 shares! Yet, when I asked for volunteers to simply sit in their car and watch her front door… crickets.
This isn’t a cry for more feelings about people in hard places but rather an appeal to Americans to create genuinely engaged community life in Jesus’ manner of missionary ministry. I am very proud of our little house church for time and time again being the ones to raise their hands and say, “How can I serve Rosie?”
My prayerful hope is that we wouldn’t just soak in conviction but rather step up and step out into community-building in the love of our risen Jesus! May God’s people more and more step it up and step out TOGETHER! Meet your neighbors and draw them into intentional community life in the love of Jesus!
In His friendship?