About a month ago the students in my Catechism small group informed me that they had heard about a man who had been found frozen to death in Luverne. However, no one seemed to know the details surrounding his death other than alcohol may have been involved. When you hear about a person who was found frozen to death, it raises many questions and concerns. What was his name? How old was he? Was he married? Does he have family in Luverne? Did he have friends who cared about him? Did he work somewhere? Did he slip and fall? Did someone else cause his death? Was alcohol actually involved? Was he a member of a church? Was he saved?
Actually, I guess I wasn’t too concerned about his death because I forgot about it until I read the article in the newspaper several days later. After looking up his obituary, I discovered this about the man that was found dead:
Percy L. Manning was born on December 18, 1954 to Bessie Manning in Chicago, Illinois. He received his formal education through the Chicago Public School System, where he enjoyed studying and learning new things–especially about cars and car repair. Percy always worked somewhere in the auto industry where he could work with and gain more knowledge about automobiles.
Percy visited Minnesota on and off throughout his life. He moved to Luverne, Minnesota, not too far from where his best friend and cousin lived, Willie Martin. Percy will always be remembered as a gentle person with a giant heart. Percy departed this life on December 7, 2013. (For the sake of space I am omitting the names of several family members and friends that will cherish his memory, but I include this final insight of his obituary). Percy will definitely be missed in Chicago.
As I finished reading his obituary, I thought, “that’s it,” that’s all we know about Percy Manning. Will anyone in Luverne miss Percy? As I reflected on the story, I began to wonder how many “Percy Manning’s” there are in American Reformed Church. How much do we know about each other and do we really care if someone is missing?
And it’s for that reason the Elders and I have developed and are implementing an intentional Care Shepherd Ministry at ARC. The Consistory truly desires that every member of our congregation feels loved and valued and therefore, today we will be commissioning 24 Care Shepherds to assist our Elders in order that we might more effectively care for one another.
The Bible has a great deal to say about our call to care for “one another.” Here are just a few: We are called to love one another. Serve one another. Accept one another. Help one another. Encourage one another. Be concerned for one another. Carry one another’s burdens. Be devoted to one another. Pray for one another. Admonish one another. Comfort one another.
Makes me wonder, would Percy still be alive if we would have been able to “one another” him? My prayer is that each of you will humbly and respectfully accept the love and encouragement that will be displayed by your Care Shepherd. I pray that no one would feel isolated and ready to be devoured by Satan but that everyone would be growing in enjoying the abundant life as we spur one another on to love and good deeds.
And one final piece of good news and hope for Percy, according to someone who “one anothered” him, “It was during this last move to Luverne that he accepted Christ, in a local church here in Luverne, Minnesota.”
Pity the man who has no one to help him up,