Maurine Georgiades has been part of the broader ABC family since the early 1950s. She’s now 93 years old and is pretty much homebound because she has severe respiratory problems and is dependent on breathing support. In the past few years, one of the church’s TLC groups has been meeting at her home to include her in the fellowship. They enjoy her upbeat spirit, her sharp wit and her contagious faith in Christ.

I’ve been thinking of calling her, ever since our coronavirus shutdown has been in effect, to encourage her during these difficult times. I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Then yesterday, in the middle of the morning, SHE called ME. After identifying herself she said, “How are you all doing?” I assured her my family was fine and updated her on how ABC was handling the crisis. I inquired about her and was assured that she’s hanging in there.

Then she said something that really struck me: “I just wanted to call and be a blessing to somebody.” She added,I just called Juanita DeVaughn. And if you know of any body else who needs encouragement, let me know. I’ll just call and be a blessing to them.”

At her age and with her respiratory condition, Maurine is certainly at-risk in this epidemic. She might be expected to turn all her thoughts and concerns inward, to her own self-protection and survival. But instead, she’s thinking about people she could call and be a blessing to.

After I hung up, I realized I had neglected to call Bob Lee. His immune system is compromised because of the treatment he’s been receiving, so he’s been self-quarantining. He’d been on my mind for a few days, but I just hadn’t made the call. So now, inspired by Maurine’s call to me, I phoned Bob. We caught up on our health, our families and other common interests. Then Bob said, “I think I’ll call John and Lou and see how they’re doing.” John and Lou are fellow members of our Kiwanis Club, and they’re both living in long term care facilities.

It was amazing how quickly Maurine’s decision to call and “be a blessing” to me had multiplied into four people, plus their families, being blessed. All because Maurine refused to focus on her own troubles and trials so she could be a blessing to others.

* * * * *

The Apostle Paul wrote four of his New Testament letters from prison. He was imprisoned twice. Some of his time spent in custody was under a kind of house arrest, where he could have visitors and walk around the facility where he was being held. (Kind of like our current experience of “sheltering in place.”) But when he wrote the letter to the Colossians, he was actually locked down in chains (4:18). He had plenty to complain about, but instead he chose to focus on them and how they could live positive Christian lives in a time of great stress:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving… Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. (4:2, 5-6)

In other words, be a peaceful, calming influence in the lives of those around you.

Paul then mentioned a number of individuals by name, showing how his focus was on others in his time of great personal need (4:7-15). Finally, he urged them to keep passing the encouragement on:

And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. (4:18).

That’s his First Century way of saying just call and be a blessing to somebody.

-Pastor George Van Alstine