I suppose it's an odd picture to have a meals on wheels meal posted as the picture to accompany todays blog.
I met Nancy a pensioner at the time in Aberdare, South Wales while I was attending Cwmdare Mission. It was during the time I volunteered for a schools ministry 'An Open Door' somewhere between 1994 and 1997. As I didn't have a car, I couldn't travel home on the weekends. I had become part of the family anyway, in those days doing anything you could to serve God. My bed for a year was the sofa and then I got 'upgraded' to a single bed, which was smack in the middle of the living room.
One Tuesday night a semi-retired missionary couple Ed and Nano Kilborn came to share about their missionary work in China. It was a riveting hour or so, where I learned so much about the Chinese underground Church and the sacrifice early missionaries had made. They had gone to China in the 50's, had planted a couple of Churches, raised a family, even loosing a child to mis-carriage, which Nano had buried in the banks of a river while Ed was upcountry evangelising. I could write a post just about them - but that is not the focus today.
In typical Mission Chapel stye the last 20 minutes or so of the meeting before tea was served, people prayed for the guest speakers and Nancy who at that point I didn't know well, was broken, crying out to God for his work in China to continue. By the end of her prayer I was shaken to the core. First hearing about this great missionary couple and then hearing Nancy pray like that - for a 24 year old who was trying to serve God anyway he could - it taught me a lesson in intimacy with the Father and passion for the lost - right there.
Ed had made a call that night to ask people to continue to pray and support the underground Church in China. I wondered what I could do.
A few weeks later I happened to visit Nancy and noticed an almost perfectly separated meal she'd had from meals on wheels. Nancy wasn't a woman of means, she lived on what little her pension provided. I asked if she was OK, concerned that she would not have enough to eat. She couldn't afford for the meals on wheels folk to come every day, so I thought, I need to buy her a bag of shopping every now and then - little did I know at that point what this woman was doing.
Some time later, after Nancy's death, I found out in passing conversation with a friend of hers, that she could in fact have had a meal everyday, but instead decided to reduce her meals by 50% and send the money she saved to the underground Church in China.
When I found out, I was absolutely amazed. I was especially amazed when much later I reflected on her sacrifice and the impact it would have made. Speaking to another missionary to China, I figured out (roughly) that the seven years or so before she passed, Nancy would have contributed enough to support over 40 men to become Pastors in the Underground Church movement. Many of those leaders going on to have Church networks of 10's of thousands of people.
It taught me a massive lesson over time. Never underestimate a persons love for God, who ever they are, never question what a person is doing behind the scenes. Before you point a finger about 'lack of sacrifice' make sure you are on the right side of the fence on the argument IE - what sacrifice are you making !
Nancy Francis life taught me, you don't have to be a big shot to make a massive difference. You just need to keep putting one step forward, day by day and be faithful to what you feel God called you to do.
Never judge the day of small beginnings. History might reveal its result.