Archive for the ‘Newsletters’ Category

July 2019 Newsletter – Encouragement in the Valley of the Shadow

Posted on 07/28/19 by Russ Corley

Through the years of my work with EM, I have had many conversations with people about death. Some were facing death; others were dealing with the death of someone they loved. These conversations are never easy, but they are important. The way we talk about death is shaped by our understanding of the meaning of life.

As a minister, I have been honored to witness the deep faith of many who believed in Jesus as they grew to love and trust Him more while walking with Him through the valley of the shadow of death. Let me share a story that created my deep desire to work in such situations and eventually led to the formation of EM in 1990.

My first conversation with a dying patient happened during the early 80s while I was a minister in Columbus, OH. I learned about ministry in hospitals by visiting patients with my friend and spiritual mother, Barbara Young. She was the first to model for me listening with compassion, sharing a scripture that spoke to the situation, and the power of prayer at the bedside of suffering.

After a referral about an out of town patient, I began to visit a young man at OSU Hospital. He was in his late twenties and had brain cancer. When I first met him, he was in his bed, standing on his head with his feet against the wall because this position brought some relief to his headache.

During our first conversation, I found out a few things about him. One of the most important pieces of information was that he had grown up in a small country church and had a little faith in Jesus, but that faith seemed to be waning as he faced cancer.

On subsequent visits, we talked more about what he believed and about his questions. Often, I did not have strong answers, but I would listen, share scripture, and pray with him. Over time, something began to happen in him. His faith in Jesus became real and personal. For a while he improved and went home in rural OH.

When he came back a few months later, the cancer was growing worse and the pain was intensifying. He called and asked me to visit. I saw him often over the next few weeks. He was getting sicker, but his faith was growing stronger.

We now had two anchor passages: Psalm 23 and 2Cor. 4:7-5:21. Each visit, we would read one or both of these texts. We would talk about what they meant in light of his life and the reality of his approaching death.

He shared with me some personal things about people back home. Some of them he was forgiving for hurt that they had caused. Others were people that he cherished deeply. A few were both. He talked about the things that he was learning to appreciate with deep gratitude. He shared what he wanted me to say at his funeral.

When he died, I drove down winding country roads to the small church where he grew up. On the day of his funeral, I spoke using both texts and sharing some of the beautiful reflections that he had shared with me.

When I finished, many people talked with me. What I shared included things that they had never guessed about this young man who was introverted and shy. They were surprised by the depth of his faith and feelings, his courage in suffering, and his tender heart towards people in that small town.

There are other kinds of conversations that occur in the face of death. Some people are terrified, others are very sad to leave people that they love, and some are angry at God for not healing them. Still, most of the conversations that I have shared with people, became an expression of the confidence of David when he wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” When we discover the reality of the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus in the midst of our suffering, we realize that there is a hope that cannot be destroyed by death.

Pat and I thank you for supporting us in this work. Your generous giving, your referrals and your prayers sustain us and create the opportunities for conversations about faith, not only in the valley of death, but across many of life’s toughest situations. In the midst of suffering, the strongest faith is formed.

Encouragement Ministries, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. We exist through the generous financial support of the friends of Encouragement Ministries. If you would like to make a donation to help our ministry continue, click here. It makes a difference.

June 2019 E Newsletter: What Comes to Mind When You Think of Encouragement?

Posted on 06/30/19 by Russ Corley

Click June 2019 E Newsletter: What Comes to Mind When You Think of Encouragement?to read the June 2019 E Newsletter:  What Comes to Mind When You Think of Encouragement?

May 2019 E-newsletter: Lessons of Encouragement on a Baseball Field

Posted on 05/30/19 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the May 2019 e-newsletter: Lessons of Encouragement on a Baseball Field.

April 2019 E-newsletter: In Memory of Judy Flatt

Posted on 04/29/19 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the April 2019 E-newsletter: In Memory of Judy Flatt.

March 2019 E-newsletter: Listen in Love

Posted on 04/02/19 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the March 2019 e-newsletter: Listen in Love.

February 2019 E-newsletter: Learning to Trust Jesus, My Shepherd

Posted on 03/01/19 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the February 2019 e-newsletter: Learning to Trust Jesus, My Shepherd. 

January 2019 e-newsletter: When God Uses the Thing That We Call Small

Posted on 01/23/19 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the January 2019 e-newsletter: When God Uses the Thing That We Call Small.

December 2018 E-newsletter: We Are Grateful for Your Prayers and Financial Support

Posted on 12/12/18 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the latest e-newsletter: We Are Grateful for Your Prayers and Financial Support.

November 2018 E-newsletter: A New Lesson in Encouragement

Posted on 11/14/18 by Russ Corley

Click here to read the November 2018 e-newsletter: A New Lesson in Encouragement.

A New Lesson in Encouragement

Posted on 11/13/18 by Russ Corley

Hi there! Cynthia Bennett here, Vice President of the Board of Directors for Encouragement Ministries and pinch hitter for this newsletter. My love and respect for Russ and Pat multiplied recently as I joined them for the first time for an Encouragement Ministries visit.

On a rainy morning, the three of us arrived in separate cars in front of the home of a dear woman who was uniquely special to each one of us for different reasons. This beautiful and strong woman of 98 years had been placed recently under 24-hour hospice care. Her thoughtful daughter had moved in with her to help care for her. We were greeted at the door and welcomed in.

I will admit that this visit made me feel very sad and emotional. I mentally kept telling myself, “Get a grip, Cynthia. It will not help anything if you become a blubbering mess.”

We walked down the hall and into the bedroom where the hospital bed had recently been installed. There was our friend. She appeared to be in a deep sleep. I felt uneasy, and I was afraid we would wake her. I wondered if we should offer to come back another time but….

Pat and Russ appeared to be completely at peace, and immediately each of them went to her bedside – one on one side and one on the other. Pat touched this precious woman and spoke soft words of encouragement in her ear. Russ put his hand on her shoulder and spoke the 23rd Psalm over her in his booming yet pleasant voice. (Our friend is hard of hearing.) Pat joined in on the 23rd Psalm, and I choked out a few words while fighting my tears. More kind words were spoken. Russ prayed. Our friend appeared to still be asleep.

We moved away from the bed and started talking with the daughter, but then we heard our friend wake up. Pat went back to her. She calmly talked with her and kissed her on the head. I drew close and talked with her. Russ waited for us to speak and then took his turn to talk with her. He reminded her of deep connections between his grandparents and her and her husband long before Russ was born. He reminded her that two of her grandchildren were friends of two of his children. Then he joked with her! She responded to his joke, and the room filled with unexpected laughter. Finally, we said our goodbyes and assured her of our love.

Before we left, we focused on her daughter. We let her share with us some of what had gone on the last week and how that had affected her. We talked about some of her shared moments with us: Pat’s weekly notes now include her, as well as her mother; Russ spoke at her father’s funeral thirty years ago; and there were other connections. Then we made sure that the daughter knew we are available for any future needs. (Russ and Pat both gave her their cards with their cell numbers.)

Have you ever heard of the 10,000-hour rule? Or the 1,000-hour rule? Some claim it  takes 1,000-10,000 hours of practice to get good at something. What I witnessed during that visit with Russ and Pat makes me believe this statement might be true. How many hours has Russ practiced the art of encouragement over the past thirty years? How many hours has Pat practiced the art of encouragement and heartfelt note writing over the years? Their experience is evident in their comfort and peace in painful and difficult situations. They genuinely feel honored to be invited into this sacred space by the people they visit. We all believe God gifted them and called them to this ministry and that the Holy Spirit strengthens them to do this work on a daily basis.

We currently live in a pain-avoidant and technology-saturated society. When suffering and crisis arrive, we need people to come alongside us who are familiar with pain and who are not afraid to be in the presence of suffering. We need people who enter into the pain, look people in the eye, pray with them, hug them, and encourage them. And this is exactly what Russ and Pat do. Every. Single. Day.

If you have someone in your life that could benefit from a visit from Russ or Pat, please let them know of the need. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Encouragement Ministries, you can do that today and help us in this ministry of compassion. As a member of the Board of Directors, I can promise you that a donation made to Encouragement Ministries is money well spent.

Encouragement Ministries, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. We exist through the generous financial support of the friends of Encouragement Ministries. If you would like to make a donation to help our ministry continue, click here. It makes a difference.