'Sometimes they ask, Why are you helping me?'
Robyne’s story | For God so loved the world …
“When I was growing up, my parents sent my sister and me to church and Sunday school, across the road. They rarely came themselves, but they sent us. And very early on in the piece, I heard John 3:16. I memorised it. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’”
“It was true. I believed it, and later on, I was in the choir at the Billy Graham crusade. I saw lots of people coming down the front, in response to the message and the worship, and it reinforced the truth of the gospel in me.
“It hasn’t been easy, though. My mother died when I was 24. She took her own life. We’d just had our first child. Then I became quite ill after our second child was born. I was in hospital for two months and I had to stay with my sister for four months. The children were looked after by neighbours. We drifted away from church. My husband began drinking heavily. Then I had a cancer diagnosis and I needed surgery and radiotherapy.
“Then, when I was 58, my husband had to be medically retired and I became his full-time carer. He had peripheral neuropathy in his hands and his feet. By then, though, he’d become a Christian and he was a changed man, and we were very involved in the local church. But we were living in our five-bedroom family home, and it was very difficult to manage, so, one day, we went to look at a retirement village.
“We saw that we could afford a one-bedroom unit. And we did! We moved in here. It’s been wonderful. There are about 200 people here. About one third of them can’t drive. Another third of them are single. There are many people who need help, in various ways. There are a lot of Christians, and retired ministers, but many others who aren’t believers. I talk to people as time permits. I’m open about my faith and I pray for others.
“I swim with a girl every morning and I share with her what we’ve been doing at Bible study. I pick-up food and/or cook meals for people in need and I drive them to medical appointments. There are some people who don’t want to talk about Jesus, they’re a bit ‘anti’, but they still accept help. And COVID is an opportunity. People are stressed and isolated at the moment. They need help. So, we have small groups that meet in the village and we zoom into church together. I always welcome people in and I invite them in for meals. Sometimes they say, ‘Why are you helping me?’ And I say, ‘Because you’re my friend and because we’re Christians.’
“I like all the hymns and the new songs. Sometimes, my memory goes, and I can’t remember Bible verses, but the songs always stay with me. One of my favourites is The Servant King. “Come see his hands and his feet, the scars that speak of sacrifice, hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered. This is our God, the Servant King. He calls us now to follow him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the servant king.”
“That’s been a great encouragement to me, and it is especially now, at the moment.”