Never before had I felt like such a failure! Why couldn't I help her? Why couldn't I point her to the answers she so desperately and obviously needed!
I was visiting a lady for the first time in our new district. Her name was on the church hooks, but I had never seen her at church. Slowly, as she began to trust me with her friendship and confidence, she began to pour out the agony of her heart—the disappointments in her marriage, her feelings that no one liked her at church, her inability to pray. She said that she had tried to pray many times but she always got a mental block and could think of nothing to say to God! My heart ached for her because I could see that she was miserable, and I couldn't see how she could be helped without prayer.
I tried to help her by reading Bible texts about prayer—what it was, what it was not, what conditions would prevent our prayers from being answered. I quoted Ellen White's definition of prayer:" Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock Heaven's storehouse ..." (Steps to Christ, pp. 94, 95). "Prayer is the breath of the soul" (Gospel Workers, p. 254). "Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend" (Steps to Christ, p. 93). I prayed with my new friend and left, feeling like I had somehow failed her. But I didn't give up!
One Sabbath my friend visited the church, but left before the sermon was finished. From then on, I would look for her and literally "sprint" across the foyer to catch her at the door as she was leaving. I would shake her hand, tell her how glad I was to see her and invite her to come again. Though she visited our church from time to time, she began attending another church in our district. She made some friends there and she began to occasionally stay for fellowship dinner. At times her husband, who was of another faith, attended with her.
I kept praying for Donna (not her real name), and I refused to give up on her.
When an evangelist came for a series of meetings, his wife took a special interest in her, talked to her, listened to her, hugged her, sat by her. We began to see Donna blossom and come out of the protective shell she had crawled into to keep from being hurt and rejected.
In time I encouraged my friend to transfer her membership to the church she was attending, and she did this gladly. She was beginning to feel like she belonged and that she had a caring church family.
About this time a retired couple moved to the area. The lady immediately sensed that Donna needed friends and lots of "warm fuzzies" to help build up her self-
esteem. This lady invited Donna to her house for a small prayer meeting with a few church members. In time Donna invited the group to her house, and her husband even took part in the meeting. She began to be able to not only "receive" from her church family but to "give" to them.
A Communion service was planned and Donna and her husband attended the service. Both participated. Time went on. Donna continued to grow in the Lord, and I took her to a Ladies' Retreat. She thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship. After returning home, she called three or four people to share her enthusiasm and urged them to attend the following year.
Donna was at the following Communion service. I invited her to share with me in the preparatory experience of the foot washing. She gladly agreed. She offered to wash my feet first, and after she had done so, with love and humility, she remained on her knees in front of me, she grasped my hands, bowed her head, and prayed for me! The tears of joy, relief and appreciation for God's answered prayers on her behalf rolled down my cheeks and hers! When she finished, I said in awed tone, "Donna, you prayed!" Her face just glowed with happiness. I praised God for her healing and thanked Him for His lesson to me that God will accomplish all things "in His time," not in mine. I am humbly grateful!