Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Lay Ministry puts more troops on the front lines of service
years ago some man in
more than a quarter of a century,
They are not clergy and do not wish to be. They are simply Christians who feel “a calling” to provide loving care for others who are experiencing tough times. What do they do? They try to care as Jesus would by holding your hand, listening, praying, reading Scripture, and listening some more.
Stephen Ministers try to love unconditionally, without judging or condemnation, and they do so in strict confidence. They say to people: “Remember, we care but only God cures!” Their aim is to “walk beside” someone who is hurting and “be there” for that person.
Those who volunteer to become Stephen Ministers must go through many hours of careful training – as much as 40 to 50 hours of group study and reflection. Trainers are serious about making sure these Stephen Ministers are well prepared for this important ministry.
for our group is Ray Caudill, a gifted counselor himself and a compassionate
Christian. Ray spent a full week in
The need for Stephen Ministers is sometimes overwhelming. One or two ordained pastors cannot begin to adequately provide the loving care that many people desperately need. When any crisis occurs in someone’s life a wise pastor will welcome having a Stephen Minister assist in meeting the need.
“Equipping, empowering and sending out distinctively Christian, caring ministers to those who suffer, are discouraged or otherwise burdened by life events, by delivering God’s love, care, gentleness, compassion and the eternal encouragement of Jesus Christ.”
That is a mouthful. But boil it down and what you have is essentially the mission of the church. Jesus often told his disciples to “go.” He seldom told them to “sit.” The more we are willing to go alongside people and share their burdens, the more we look like genuine disciples of Jesus.
some verses in the Bible I do not understand. But the meaning of many others is
clear and compelling. Paul said to his friends in Thessalonica, “Encourage one
another and build up each other.” And he said to the church in
That is clearly what Stephen Ministers are about and I salute them for their much needed ministry to others. Quietly, without fanfare, they show up on the front lines of service. They make a difference – and the world is a better place because they walk among us. + + + +