Remembering  the Forgotten

John L. McKeel in Korea, 1955

One holiday, when I came home from the Army, dad and I sat and talked about his experiences in the Army in Korea twenty years before. The tall, lanky kid from Oklahoma with a blonde flattop and blue eyes was exposed to things he would never forget. However, the one experience that stood out to him was standing guard on a dark hill above a rice paddy one lonely night just before Christmas. His young bride and two baby boys in diapers were home in Oklahoma while dad was among the “frozen chosen” standing watch far away. He was standing there with his rifle, and a chill wind blew through his jacket. No one else was around. Loneliness is one of the most painful emotions a human being can experience. As dad remembered, you could see the pain was still real. He shifted in his chair, then looked up, and I thought I saw a tiny tear in the corner of his eye. From the family room, you heard the sound of grandchildren playing. He was home! Dad smiled when he saw my mother, the children, and grandchildren playing around the Christmas tree.

Prisoners, victims of torture, often say the worst punishment is solitary confinement. The pain of loneliness is devastating!

Christian, are you wondering what good thing you can do today? In every congregation – in every community – there are the forgotten. Perhaps they are alone in an empty home. They may be confined to a facility away from their loved ones. Widows, elderly, prisoners, students away from home for the first time, and home-sick soldiers standing watch; these are the lonely.

Pick up a pen and send a good, old-fashioned letter. They can hold onto something that doesn’t depend on the Internet or batteries. Mail a card and make them laugh. Use that cell phone to let them know they are not alone. Stop by and say “Hi!” I promise: you will be the one blessed!

Still not sure how to begin? Then begin on your knees, remembering them in prayer. The Lord will open opportunities for you to prove your love!

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