Manny at work BEING a secretary to a Reverend with a Ph.D. that people respectfully address as doctor, sometimes I wonder if I should be called a secretary or a 'nurse.' Besides the duties of general office administration, I am called upon - more often than not — to deal with 'street people' by giving them sack lunches and to receive telephone calls or prayer requests for me to pass on to four prayer groups.

It's been this way for me for over ten years now in my little corner of the world in a cramped church office. I meet virtually all kinds of people, from visiting preachers, contractors, cleaning crews, gang members, the homeless and jobless poor as well as the rich - you name it. But the most common ones are those dropping in with problems, real serious problems. I see sadness, even hopelessness, in their eyes as they come out of the pastor's office. Many a big, grown-up man with tears flowing down the cheeks whose family has just moved out from home. Imagine going home to an empty house and you begin to feel what that means! As a father and husband myself I feel their pain. What if I myself should miss the sweet laughter of my kids and their pictures on an empty wall and the backyard 'football games' a loving father always enjoys playing or just watching? This thought sure keeps in tune to be on my knees and to pray as often as possible.

Then too there are those who drop in on their way home from the funeral service 'leaving' spouse in the cemetery after 40 years of marriage! And what about those men who have just made bad decisions, those who have committed crimes and are on the brink of going to jail?

Statistically, on the average, people in America move every eight years, and this can mean a lot of risk. Case in point, a family of eight from faraway Texas decided to relocate here in California and in no time ran out of hotel and food money ending up in the street the next day!

Add to all these the 'little' things when hunger left me and I gave away many a last sack lunch to those bunch of homeless guys reeking with a strong breath of alcohol, and sometimes to a homeless mom with two kids in tow and I got nothing more to give! In those situations with moms at the end of the rope, what gets me more than anything else is their hopelessness and shame more than their hunger pains!

We can go on and on with real-life tales of woe, some coming over the phone as prayer requests, such as for a grieving family of a healthy father, only 51 years of age, who dropped dead while jogging, or from a wife suffering from some kind of bleeding while calling 9-1-1 for her diabetic husband lying unconscious on the floor from a concussion, or yet from an eighteen-year-old who while riding with a friend met an accident so bad it separated his skull from his face.

Am I a secretary or a 'nurse' in the face of a hard and cruel world that church finds itself in?

Honestly, I don't know as I am made to work extra hard to keep my very own personal sanity!

Again, honestly, I would have long ago lost my own sanity had I not known Jesus personally. Why in eternity past He did come down from Heaven's glory and splendor and choose to become man Himself "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3), in other words, exactly just like you and me, this reality assures me that there is HOPE for all this broken humanity. And we are ALL broken, as a theologian I once heard called it 'existential despair. We are all broken for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Yes, we are all broken and the tragedy is that one seldom realizes this until or unless — God forbid! — he or she is in dire straits as I have in part detailed above.

We may not all realize it but the fact remains we are all broken. Call it by another term as the good theologian did — 'existential despair' — a term I did not understand then nor could possibly ever. All I understand is this that Jesus said, "Those who are healthy do not need a doctor but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17)

Do you need the Doctor, the Great Physician? I trust that you do for He alone suffered beyond our ability to experience or that of those broken 'guests' I've mentioned. And He died the most shameful death to FIX or to PAY for all our brokenness and sin so that we may be healed. And the wonder of it all is that He bids us COME to be WITH Him personally, in His very presence right now. What more comforting thing can there be than being in fellowship with the King Himself!

Manny Ferrer
February 2013

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