I was sitting on the bench in front of our house, talking with my childhood friends and the godfathers of my daughter when a member of our church carrying a sick child passed by us. I know that she’s been to the neighborhood faith healer. (These faith healers are not actually “faith healers”; they’re more like chiropractors who heals the sick by manipulating the bones. But in order to give a little mysticism and spirituality in their healing they usually say that they are possessed by the child Jesus or the Virgin Mary.) The member of our church stopped, walked a few steps back, and asked me to pray over her sick child. Although I’m a church deacon and I knew that this praying for the sick is one of the ministries of a deacon, yet I was caught off guard and to tell the truth I was a little annoyed. I politely told her that I’m not a pastor and I can’t pray for the child; she smiled and left. My friends were heckling me. I was silent for a little while and after the heckling evaporated I told my friends that I felt guilty, really guilty not because I didn’t pray over the child, I don’t believe that one has to spread his/her arms over things in the open in order for prayers to be effective (Jesus said to the Centurion…go home your servant is healed), but because what that lady needs is comfort and I didn’t give it to her (of course she needs money too). I was reminded of the saying, “The hands that care are better than the lips that pray.”
This is the human side of the church. Of course I am not an authority on this because I am known in the church for my temper, for my vocality about church issues (in short I am inhuman; I admit it); I am known for my frankness bordering on rudeness and political incorrectness, I am so many things that would disappoint one’s definition of a “Spiritual Christian” and a member asking me to pray over her child…I should have felt pride because at least someone made the mistake of mistaking me for being spiritually gifted (whatever that means) but the experience is disconcerting, it shook me.
My friends were comforting me by saying that she’s just trying to get attention, but isn’t that Christian care? Providing attention, listening, and talking, and providing comfort and being a spiritual brother and sister and parent.
I believe its desperation when church members come to me for prayers and the sad thing is, and I admit it, I am not fit to fill these ministerial gaps, yet as a deacon I should be; that’s what deacons are for.
The finger that I’m pointing at our pastors is pointing back at me.
It is nerve wracking when they turn to me for things like these.