It seemed like three hours but it was no more than 10 minutes. Ginny–an elderly Special Gathering member with diabetes–has seen her cognitive abilities eaten away from her health condition and age. As Ginny got off the SCAT bus to join us at Special Gathering, she was separated from the members going into the gymnasium; and she was swept away by a different group of adults going into the elevator. She followed them into a different Bible study class.
They knew that she belonged with Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. Each week we meet at several venues where we are allowed to use borrow facilities. When the church members tried to help her find the gym where we hold our chapel services, Ginny refused to go with a stranger. In the meantime, we were frantically trying to find her. After a search of the church and the neighborhood, she was found by our supervisor who crashed the Bible study class and was told that Ginny was with them.
In the end, when I heart began to beat again, I was grateful for the system of checks that we have in place at Special Gathering. Each person is checked four times: 1) When they arrive. 2) When they enter the room for worship. 3) When they go into their Bible study classsroom. 4) When they leave. With 60 or more people, it could be easy to lose track of one person without this checking system.
As soon as we realized that Ginny had not entered the room for worship, we began to check the bathrooms. Her routine is to go to the bathroom because she has a long bus ride. When she wasn’t there, we checked the obvious places. When that search didn’t produce any results, we canvased the building. Then, the entire campus and the neighorhood was reviewed. She was found safely tucked in a class in a secluded corner of the room.
The lesson I learned was that God’s protection and our faith sometimes involves our being proactive with safe guards. My husband often warned me that my impulsive personality (which I equated as faith) frequently prompted me to move from the bounds of God’s protection. When our son was younger, he got large carbuncles as a result of playing in the sand in the vacant lot adjacent to our back yard. His greatest joy in life was digging great big holes and then playing in them.
For about a year, I didn’t know why he was getting these bad sores. The doctors had no clue regarding the source. Then I noticed a correlation between his playing in the sand and these infections. ”We are tempting the Lord, if we continue to let him play in the sand,” my husband said. Even though I knew we would be taking away his greatest pleasure in life, it made sense. He was no longer allowed to go into the back lot and the carbuncles stopped.
While the Special Gathering checks may seem inconvenient, it is a great blessing when we realize that the system works. God’s protection is there but we must avoid tempting the Lord with our careless actions.