The Pastor’s Piece – March 17, 2024

The Pastor’s Piece


March 17, 2024

“New Friends”

I had an interesting experience the other day. I was on my way to visit someone in the hospital. As I approached the door, there was an elderly gentleman sitting in the sunshine on a bench outside. As I hurried past, he greeted me with a smile and a hello. I felt a sudden tug to stop and talk to him, but I ignored it. As I went through the revolving door, I knew I should go back and talk to him, but I didn’t. When I got to the elevator, I couldn’t take it any longer – it was like that still small voice inside was shouting at me to go back. So, I turned around and went back out through the revolving door and approached the man, who I assumed was there to visit his wife. I knew he must have spent no small amount of time at her bedside, otherwise he wouldn’t have been outside taking a break.

“Is your wife in the hospital?” I asked.

He said she was and then he went on to explain how she came in with a swollen foot and they discovered she had a heart condition that needed immediate attention. She was now sleeping so he thought he’d come outside for a break. Without me asking, he began talking about his life. He told me the whole story. As a young man, he wanted to be a logger but there wasn’t enough money in that occupation to make a living. He also wanted to be a farmer, but times can be tough on farmers too. So he made farming his main occupation and logging his supplementary one. He was about 85 years old. He told me how he cuts and splits all the firewood for him and his three children who all have outdoor wood burners. He also planted many acres of red pine trees 50 years ago, but he doesn’t like to burn pine like they do in the Rocky Mountain regions (his words), so they’ve just been growing out there in his forest. Then, unexpectedly, he met someone who needed red pine, so he signed a contract with them, and now they are logging his pines and making them into two by fours. He was very happy to tell me this. 

After he talked for about 45 minutes, I asked him if I could pray for his wife? He didn’t know what to say, then after a short stammer, he said yes. So we sat there in the bright sunshine and I prayed for her and her foot and her heart and for him as he cares for her and cuts all that wood. Through his tears, he thanked me. I like to keep a ready supply of “business cards” in my wallet that have the gospel message of the saving grace of Jesus on them and our church information. But I had given them all away previously and had forgotten to replenish my supply that morning. So I took out the only thing I had in my billfold – which was a Culver’s gift card I was intending to use for lunch, and I wrote my name, phone number, and Martintown Church on the cover, and gave it to him. I told him to call, visit, or go online and when his wife got out of the hospital, they were invited to MCC, and afterward, he could take her to Culver’s for lunch – and we’d join them. 

I made a new friend that day, and now the rest of us can pray for him and his wife. 

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).