Louise Russell brings church to long-term care facility
July 19, 2021 / By Rev. Diane E. DiLuzio, Bridgeport UMC
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the 2021 Issue I of the Advocate, which had the theme "Celebrating who we are."
In a year when pandemic has cut such a wide swath of mayhem in our lives, it became clear to our church that we needed to “do something” to raise up hope and assurance in our little hamlet by the Oneida Lake in the Crossroads District of the Upper New York Conference.
Some of us would meet weekly to pray for God’s wisdom and vision for what the “something” could be. While we were waiting, a beloved congregant, Louise Russell, learned she needed to transition into a long-term care facility. In one of my calls to Louise, she shared how she missed coming to church and how she was led to “do something.” Louise would sit close to the front and fix her attention on the altar area, her joy in The Lord emanating from her being. Very often, she would express how happy she was to have a church that nurtured her love of God. So, when we heard she was about to make a daunting life transition in the midst of pandemic-related restrictions, we knew that every phone call and every card we could send would be a lifeline to her church that she loved so dearly.
In one of my calls to her, she shared that she was so lucky to have a way to play her Christian music. It helped her feel less lonely and closer to God. I thought we were going to talk next about her favorite hymns, but then she added, “I don’t know how people live this life without The Lord. So, I play my music and they come to listen outside my room in the hall, and we listen together. It helps us all. But next time, they are going to pray with me, because you need prayer.”
In the midst of trying to cope with her own struggles, Louise, this faithful servant of God, set her heart to easing the burdens of others by sharing the Love of Jesus with them. Her faithfulness reminded all of us of the power of faith….and the power of prayer that breaks the chains of despair and despondency.
Louise’s faithfulness is a witness to lead us to recall that God has something for each one of us to do on this side of Eden, and God does not see our frailties as a hindrance, but only that each one of us is created to be a vessel of grace where it is most needed.