By TOM MAY
The Eastside Christian Church Health and Wellness Clinic on Saturday was an afternoon filled with stories.
More than 250 volunteers and over 175 clients gathered on a beautiful fall afternoon; some seeking to give, some seeking to receive, each seeking to share a story.
It was a story of businessmen and women — doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses, medical assistants, beauticians, photographers — who freely gave of their time, talents and services to people who otherwise might not ever have a chance to experience them.
It was a story of volunteers who greeted people warmly at the door, offering a strong handshake or a gentle touch. It was a story of helping people fill out forms, walking them from station to station, finding the right person and the right service to meet a need. It was a story of sorting clothes, of cooking chili, of making preparations, of anxious anticipation, of four hours of busy activity, of packing up goods, of sore muscles and tired feet.
It was a story of an anxious mother who brought her laid-off 20-something daughter with a toothache and her grandchildren who needed warm clothes. It was a story of a kind dentist who couldn’t do the work there, but gave a voucher for five extractions of abscessed teeth and a prescription for an antibiotic. It was a story of a jubilant grandmother finding clothing for her precious treasures and hope for her day.
It was a story of a man who didn’t want to be there, but accompanied his wife and children simply to see what was being offered, to somehow avoid a bigger fight. It was a story of griping about lines and forms, of fussing about being in a church instead of at home, of bitterness about life and misfortune. It was a story of a patient volunteer who never argued, but listened; who never judged but affirmed.
It was a story of other volunteers who perceptively prayed. It was a story of a man who later offered tearful apologies and whispers of God wanting him there. It was a story of a man’s first family photograph.
It was a story of a front-toothless, smiling 7-year-old, clutching a shirt in one hand, a sweater in the other, asking hopefully, “How much do these cost?” It was a story of a teary-eyed volunteer saying, “Those items are free.” It was a story of the gleeful 7-year-old replying, “Free? For me?” and clutching the clothes tightly to her chest, dancing across the gym to find her mother.
It was a story of alcoholism and abuse; of unemployment and misfortune; of car wrecks and cancer. It was a story of despair and destruction; of challenges and choices; of decisions not made, of paths not taken. It was a story of yesterdays and todays. It was a story of better tomorrows.
It was a story of a community of grateful Christians who have been blessed by the story of a gracious God and in turn wanted a chance to share that story with others. It was a story that should be told time and time again.
— Tom May is discipleship minister at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville.