More Than a Ramp

By Liz Powers, Partnership Coordinator

‘Liz, this is Will. You put my mom’s ramp on the house this summer. I just wanted to let you know my mom passed away two days ago. I just wanted to tell you I greatly appreciate what you did for her. Take care.’

The above is a text message I received only a couple of weeks ago and man, I have to admit- it shook me. Will’s mom, Linda, was a woman we connected with only as recently as mid-summer. The wheelchair ramp Next Step volunteers were able to build on her home was just finished in early August. That equates to about a 3 month timespan that we had the privilege of knowing Linda.

Linda is not the only resident we have worked with who has passed during our time in partnership with Lorain County. Since 2013, at least 9 of the residents we have worked with in repairing their homes have passed away. When considering the senior population we primarily work with out here in Ohio, it’s not necessarily surprising that we encounter death more frequently. Many of the individuals we work alongside are elderly and burdened with various health issues. So while this reality may not be shocking, it absolutely forces us to grapple with some BIG questions about our time spent with these friends.

The truth is that we never really know how long we will have with those God brings us to. Whether old, young, ill or healthy- reality tells us that time is not something we are entitled to. When friends like Linda pass away, friends we had such limited time with- that truth bears a new weight. The past couple weeks have included lots of conversations and reflection surrounding questions like ‘Did we capitalize on the time we had with Linda?’ ‘Was Linda able to experience the love of Christ through our interactions?’ and the real kicker – ‘Did she leave this world knowing Jesus as her personal Savior?’

I think we can learn a lot from our friendship with Linda and the 8 other residents who have passed since we had the opportunity to work alongside them in home repair. Will’s text message ended with ‘I just wanted to tell you I greatly appreciate what you did for her.’  As I consider that sentiment, I can’t help but think that he is referring to more than the wheelchair ramp. Sure, that repair was important in improving her living conditions and thusly the quality of her life. But, the reality is that wheelchair ramp only improved her life for less that 3 months. As Christ followers living with an eternal perspective, we are challenged with the responsibility to care for people in an even deeper way than meeting their physical needs. I believe we can look back on our time with these 9 residents with confidence that the impact we made extended far past the physical. Going forward, I am also challenged and reminded to operate with the urgency of the gospel as my guide, using opportunities to not only meet physical needs but spiritual ones as well.

Please join me in praying for Linda’s family as well as the families of all the homeowners who have passed over the years from Lorain County. I ask you to also join me in responding to the challenge of seizing opportunities to impact not only the physical lives of the friends we work alongside, but to also impact their eternity spent with the Father. Thank you to all who were able to work with Linda and her family this summer!