The ER: A good friend shared an interesting story this week. His brother attended seminary. One of the brother’s assignments was to be in attendance in a hospital emergency room.

His first assigned night was a Friday night. The first incident he encountered was a family bringing in a person for treatment who had been stabbed several times. His brother dutifully reached out to the family, but when he saw the victim, had to excuse himself. He went to the bathroom and threw up.

In reflecting on this story, I recognized how sheltered my world is and has been. I am aware but have not done much to enter the unsheltered world of disease, pain, suffering, war, homelessness, poverty and much more.

My only experience with the ER room on a weekend was a few days after Jeny broke her leg. We were skiing in Colorado when the accident happened. The doctor in Colorado was not an orthopedic specialist so he put a cast on the leg and did not set it. Jeny was very strong through the pain. We drove back to Kansas and flew home to Mobile.

When we landed we went to the ER at the University of South Alabama Hospital. It was a weekend. I have two clear memories from that night: first the x-rays of Jeny’s horrible fracture and second a victim of spouse abuse who was brought in for treatment. I remember the sight of her battered face and the wails of pain; a painful glimpse of the unsheltered world.

I used to tell my psychology students, the ivory tower world of academia shields them from many of world’s realities. I encouraged them to spend a weekend evening in the ER room at the local indigent care hospital. They would likely see an unsheltered world. I know I did.

My Sheltered Life: I have never been around someone when they died. I have not made it a point to visit friends in the hospital. I fumble for words at funerals. I have never been around shootings, stabbings or war.

I have not felt a calling to the unsheltered world. Oh, I summon the courage to visit friends who are dying from cancer. I even worked directly with one homeless couple. But mostly, I have been a “sign the check” supporter of ministries to the unsheltered world.

I live on the outside of big problems. My interactions with those issues are but infrequent glimpses. However, I have many dear friends who have been led to be a part of the troubles of the world. Chaplains, doctors, nurses, first responders, care givers, missionaries, police men and women, soldiers and others have done more than give financial or lip service to serious needs in our world—they have immersed themselves in the reality of the unsheltered world.

Those who are called: Tom is a high school classmate of mine. In the pain and fear of the hospital and other crises, he found his calling.

As the chaplain to a hospital, he counseled the living and the dying. He counseled parents of critically ill children and children of critically ill parents. As a chaplain to the sheriff he counseled officers who saw the brutality of others and relatives of victims of the brutality. As a member of a national crisis team he found himself in Oklahoma City after the bombing and New York City after 9/11.

Dr. Paul has for many years given medical care to prisoners and surgery to people in developing countries.

Dr. Jeanne has seen and treated the most serious of infectious diseases.

Dr. Laura treats cancer patients and gives counsel to them and their families.

Collette was a nurse.

Kenneth is an EMT who has brought care to scenes of tragedy. His brother Donald has the grim task of transporting dead bodies.

Rick and Dianne have a missionary’s heart for the people of Jamaica who live on the “non resort” side of the lovely island.

Mark serves on many missionary fronts.

Mary gives her life to sheltering homeless women.

Marty, Antonia and Kim provide love and support to severely handicapped adults.

Wes, a policeman, has been in the middle of gunfire and tragedy.

Ron, Stuart, Bob and more have lived the brutal reality of war

I am sure I missed some of my friends, who are, or have been, directly involved in the unsheltered world. Both named and unnamed have lived and worked in an area that is a big void in my life; I appreciate their work.

I know each of them have memories and vivid images to overcome—I wish them peace.

In the last blog I cited James 1: 27 –pure faith is found in looking after orphans and widows in distress.  James goes further in 2: 15, 16: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him or her ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” 

To all those “doing good” in the unsheltered world — I thank You.

Until next week—Peace



Stan · October 31, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Jerry, I read most of your posts, although I have not commented on them nor jumped in with Blog input. This one made me realize
that one benefit of my work with Habitat for Humanity is that it does connect me to that other side of town from which so many of us are sheltered. Having said that, even the home owner audience we serve is mostly removed from the most drastic of the violence and crime situations which are all too prevalent.

Our church, through the Church and Society Committee was examining needs in the community and realized that although we have numerous Food Pantries for those in need, none of the pantries in town offer any paper products (diapers, feminine hygiene, depends, etc.). We decide to start a ministry to meet this need. Once monthly we give away needed items until we run out for that month. The first Saturday we did the handout, we had about 12 families. Now, we have 200 or more families coming every month. No one in our church even realized such a need existed. I have strayed a bit from your Blog, but when we get outside our comfort zone we quickly find people with needs we never imagined existed.

    Jerry Williams · October 31, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks. The needs in our world are amazing. This is great. I will use it in a future blog.
    It is exactly the kind of interaction and new learning I am so enjoying through my blog.
    Looking forward to Boston.

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