Focused on Love over Loss

05/31/2018 .
Don Sennott  .  Guest Storyteller

“I don’t know why I’m here,” Cindy said, referring to the automobile accident that almost took her life. “I should have died; it was a real bad accident.”

Cindy recalls that her daughter, Kristen, was in the car with her when the accident happened. But Kristen was not injured as severely as her mom. Cindy tried to remember more details, but the words just wouldn’t come. The head injuries from the accident were devastating, and Cindy now lives with limitations that very easily could have shaken her faith.

“I forget stuff,” she continued. “I just don’t remember much about the accident.”

Everyday activities that many of us take for granted are serious challenges for Cindy. Caregivers assist her when she showers, help her braid her hair, and check in on her at bedtime. At 55 years of age, Cindy is younger than most residents at her assisted-living facility.

“There is one guy younger than me, but that’s it,” Cindy said. “I’m not sure how long I’ve been here … a long time, but I like it more than the place I was before.”

When asked what impact the accident had on her faith in God, Cindy smiled big and declared, “My faith got lifted up — got higher, higher, higher!” Then, Cindy said something that made it clear the Holy Spirit is truly at work in her life, “The love of God is bigger than my losses.”

Every Saturday, a team of volunteers from Saddleback Church hosts a worship service for Cindy’s assisted-living community. They offer prayers, share a video message, sing hymns, and give hugs and words of encouragement.

Recently, Bonnie, one of the Saddleback volunteers, was leading the discussion that followed a video message from Pastor Rick. “What does Jesus mean to you?” she asked. There was a moment of silence as the attendees pondered the question. Cindy leaned forward in her chair, hugged herself, and shouted enthusiastically, “I love Jesus so much. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and strength.”

Cindy had no way of knowing how impactful her personal witness would be. She hadn’t prepared a speech; she just spoke from her heart. Bonnie later shared, “I can’t find the words to capture the power that was projected in her testimony. How could someone who has lost so much still love God this much?”

A big part of the answer is her involvement with Saddleback Church. Cindy remembers attending Saddleback when services were still being held in tents. One of Cindy’s cherished possessions is a picture taken when Pastor Rick visited her at the assisted-living community after her accident. “Pastor Rick would pray for me. That made me feel good!” Cindy explained with strong emphasis on the word “good.” She hugged herself and said, “He’s a big dude.”

When asked what brought her to Christ, Cindy praised her mom and her sister. Holding back tears, she pointed skyward and added, “My mom’s on the other side of eternity now.”

Saddleback continues to be a powerful presence in Cindy’s life. Before the accident, her mother and sister would encourage her to attend. Now, volunteers in the Saddleback Assisted Living Ministry help her keep a strong connection with Jesus.

When asked how long she has been attending the Saddleback service in the chapel, Cindy replied, “I don’t know … a long time. I love coming to chapel.” She paused to think. “Rick Muchow used to come. He was good, too,” she said. “I love to sing the hymns. ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ is one of my favorites.”

“I love to worship Jesus,” Cindy continued. “The Saddleback service gives me lots of hopes and lots of dreams. I hope Jesus will heal me, and I dream of seeing him in heaven.” She smiles and adds, “I am grateful I can still be of service.”

Sign up to get involved with the assisted living ministry HERE.

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