Story - Tyler C. - as told to Marianne Bailey.
"I would rather be in the sewer than the nicest palace in the world as long as I was wherever God wanted me to be and I was hearing His voice." As Tyler said these words to me I could not help but weep. Because of his willingness to seek God and obey whatever path God would lead him on, Tyler has been able to see miracles and hear from God like he never has before.
This willingness began about 3 years ago. As Tyler would drive home from work everyday he could not help but weep and pray for people living in the local nursing homes. He did not quite understand this burden that God had placed on his heart. He did not have any personal connections with nursing homes, and he only had been to a nursing home once or twice in his childhood. But this heaviness would not escape him, so Tyler began to ask God for His direction. He was reading a book called "The Hiding Place" during this time. After reading this book, God began telling Tyler it was time for him to go to the nursing homes. God told Tyler to go to the nursing homes not to "preach" or do "normal" ministry with the people there, but to just read to them.
He was a little apprehensive at first. He knew it would seem weird to call these nursing homes, asking to just come over and read. All of this was also very foreign to him, and he wondered if the people there would even want him. But Tyler obeyed God and began to call the local nursing homes. Without question, the office staff allowed Tyler to come once a week to read to the men and women there. At first the men and women were a little hesitant, but after a few weeks Tyler began to earn their respect. They could see that he was there to just love on them.
At first Tyler was fearful of all the small things: what he would actually read to them and what he would do. But his biggest fear of all was burning out. He knew that most people volunteering at the nursing home probably stopped coming after a while, and Tyler didn't want to do that. He wanted to stay committed and complete the task God had set before him. Despite these fears he still went each week. Not knowing what to expect, he stepped out in faith.
Almost every time he has gone during the past 2 years, God has spoke to him. Tyler began to see that it wasn't just about reading to these men and women. It was about hearing from God in an even deeper way. He would have excitement and expectancy, not only getting to see the joy in the eyes of the people there, but knowing that God would speak to him each and every time. As he would minister to these people, God would download even more to him, and Tyler began to see miracles that he had never seen before.
One of these miracles came from a man that had skin cancer when Tyler first met him. Tyler and his wife, Anna, began praying for this man to be healed. Just recently, the sweet man told Tyler that after going to the doctor, he found out that he was cancer free! He has had a couple of doctor's appointments since then, and every time the doctor tells him that the cancer is gone!
Some of these miracles seem insignificant to most, but in a ministry like this, anything small is a huge victory in the Kingdom of God. One resident, an older lady, would refuse to join the rest of the group when Tyler and Anna would come to minister. Every time Tyler asked her to join the group, she refused. But Tyler remained patient. Anna began going with Tyler to the nursing home to play the piano each week. This small gesture lured the lady out of her room and into the main group with the rest of the residents. She began coming to group each week to hear Anna play and Tyler read. And each time they came, this lady became more and more comfortable with the group to the point of joy.
As Tyler goes to the nursing home each week, he realizes that he's walking into a place that is literally on the edge of life and death. During one visit, God spoke to Tyler that a man there was on the verge of death. Tyler went over to the man and kneeled down beside him to ask him if he was right with Jesus. The man could not speak very well, but Tyler was able to understand one sentence the man said: "I know I am ready to go, and I know I am going to be ok." A month later he passed away. But Tyler was encouraged because he knew where that sweet man was - in Heaven with his Heavenly Father.
Every time Tyler and his wife leave the nursing home, they soak in the joy and peace that come from God in response to their obedience. If God tells you to go to perhaps the nastiest place in the world, it will be worth it. As long as you obey that voice, the greatest journey you could ever imagine will take place.
Tyler loves to read to these men and women from books and stories about the times when they were younger. He searches out for books on the World Wars and sock hops so they can reminisce about their younger days. Tyler hears from people of his generation that one day they will do this or that or one day they will take that leap of faith. But then they never do. Being at the nursing home each week helps Tyler to see and realize that tomorrow is too late. Life is but a vapor, so make it count. Because all you have is today.