Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Where's Vinnie?

Where's Vinnie? Evidently no one asked! Did his neighbors not notice? Did his creditors go twelve months without collecting on his debts? Did the newspaper boy wonder why there were 365 newspapers on his front stoop? Did his mailman not get curious that one year's worth of mail was in his mailbox? Did his family not show concern over his absence at Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays? Did his church family not wonder if he had fallen away? Apparently, no.
The news says 70 year old Vincenzo Ricardo, "Vinnie" was found dead in his chair with the television still on. Autopsy said he'd been dead for an entire year!! They found him because the bitter cold had caused his pipes to freeze and break. As a social worker, I was appalled at this. As a Christian, I was ashamed. How could he have fallen through the cracks? The news said he had family who lived nearby, he worshipped at a nearby church, he had a caregiver who had gotten angry with him and quit. He lived in New York where there has been bitter cold and freezing weather and no one thought to check on him?(Did I mention he was 70 years old?) And . . .he was blind and frequently wandered into the street. Are you kidding?
This story really bothers me, because I know that Vinnie was not the only "invisible" person in our world. Everyday we sit by, walk next to, stand in line near, work with, invisible people and we say nothing. We know nothing about them and nothing about their salvation. We don't know if they have a broken heart or a broken spirit. We don't know if they are physically or spiritually ill. We don't know if they are hiding from or searching for the truth We don't know and most of us make little effort to find out. I heard a statistic in a workshop that said our society has become such a society of independence and mobility that over 80% of Americans do not know the names of their neighbors. There was a time when we all depended on each other. Forty years ago, neighbors would have checked on Vinnie, his family would have called, his minister would have knocked on his door. Have we become a nation of uncaring citizens? Do we care more about saving the spotted owl or the effects of global warming than we do about our neighbors?
I am afraid we have forgotten the value of a soul. We no longer look at lost souls and see them as future saved souls, in fact, we no longer make eye contact at all. Isn't that a sad commentary on us? Perhaps it is time we wake up and pay attention. We need to devote as much intellectual, relational and emotional energy to the souls around us as we do to Superbowl scores and Nascar races and presidential campaigns. God paid such an enormous price for souls, ours and others. They were the focus of His attention, the motive for His creation, the cause of His sacrifice. They are valuable to Him and should be to us.
So, where's Vinnie? I don't know. But, I know where my neighbor is. I know where to find my boss. I know when someone is not in worship. I know when a space is vacant at the family table. And I am convinced God wants us to know them so we can bring them to know Him.

For God so loved the world . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We hear of similar stories every few years and each time, I feel just like you described. How horrible that no one notices. It makes me wonder how long it would be before someone noticed if I were not there.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Bob Bliss said...

Our congregation has a program called "Body Builders." Several of us meet every Monday night to go over the list of absentees and visitors from Sunday. Sometimes the absentees are just out of town and don't need a call or visit. However, there are some who might be absent a couple of times in a row and no one knows why. They get a call or a visit. We also send cards to those who are sick or just need to know that we love them. I've only been a part of this for 6 months but it is a most effective ministry and we do keep pretty good track of the members here. I'm pretty sure that "Vinnie" would have been missed and called within a week. Doesn't mean our ministry is perfect but I'm glad that they started it and that it works for the most part.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Anonymous, maybe it would help to get internet friends or make some really close friends at church. I will pray for you.
Bob, great idea. Every congregation has folks who fall through the cracks. That program sounds like a good one.
Thanks for visiting here. I enjoy your comments,
PS My son, daughter in law and three grandsons live in Lakeland FL. Is that close to you?

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sad! Maybe the old blind man really needed a kind word, a short visit, maybe just somebody who cared. This makes me sad.


9:32 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

ARE YOU SERIOUS, NEVA??? I have some friends in Lakeland, the Steeds. In fact, my parents just met them last week. I'll answer for Dad, that they live about 45 minutes to an hour away. Please ask your son or daughter-in-law if they know the Steeds. If there is more than one congregation, perhaps they don't worship together, but it would be awesome if they did. If your family is near the Steeds, you can be assured they are well taken care of.

Anonymous-I can attest that Neva is a great online friend, and if you want to keep regular contact with her, she will no doubt notice if you are "missing" for a few days. She just checked on me today when I went a couple days without returning an email. :) I hope you are involved with a church family that has great awareness of its members. I will also pray for you. Neva is a great example to me. :)

9:33 PM  
Blogger Trey Morgan said...

1 Year? Ooooooo

Excellent thoughts ... makes a GREAT point.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes me both sad and ashamed. I get so caught up in church that I forget about what you call "the invisible" people. Those on the edge. Thank you for the reminder

Bless you

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on everyone in that community, shame on his family and shame on his church. I hope we are not so neglectful of the souls in our communities


12:29 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Household: said...

James was involved in a ministry like this in Phoenix. It is very important when you have a lot of people and you really do not know each other. There is no way someone can slip through the cracks here. Even their adult children call James to find out their whereabouts.
I think there are many that want to be invisible and alienate themselves. But I also think there are a lot of people not letting them.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an indictment against this "progressive" society.
Thanks for the post.


8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is late because I don't always check every day but there are the invisible in larger congregations. I didn't notice that until I moved to one for the first time in my life a year ago. They come in right before service and they leave right after. I make an effort to speak to them. At some point I believe they decided they were invisible but I want them to know they aren't. We don't have a particular Monday night program like the one mentioned but where I came from we had one called Mon. night for the Master and even the visitors got a card in the mail as well as those we knew who were simply on vacation or had to be out of town. Everyone always knew they were missed.

10:11 AM  

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