Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Editorial: It Could Be Me

MinnieMcNeil_14It Could Be Me

Editorial by Minnie McNeil

The tall woman with silver hair, starched blue and white uniform and mirror-shined white oxfords commanded our attention as she entered the conference room. She was a public health nurse about to address second-year nursing students of a large Jewish hospital in Pennsylvania. Fifty years later, I still remember her words: “You will see and hear things in this clinic that you never before imagined. As you are assigned each case, remember this: ‘But by the grace of God, there go I.’”

Her words helped shape my perspective and guided me during the next 34 years of a very rewarding nursing career. It also spilled over like a bubbling brook into my personal interactions with people everywhere.

I wonder if that’s what the Good Samaritan of Matthew 25 thought as he cared for the man by the side of the road. Is that what Ellen White was thinking when she said, “Millions upon millions of human souls ready to perish, bound in chains of ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them. Were our condition and theirs reversed, what would we desire them to do for us” (Desire of Ages, p. 640.3)?

Walking in Others’ Shoes

My world had yet another awakening in 1983 when I heard the late Elder W.W. Fordham, a retired administrator who had recently accepted the pastorate of our small congregation in Coatesville, Pa., say, “I will not pastor a church that keeps its doors locked all week.” He recognized the plight of perishing souls all around us, and expected that the light beams flowing from the open door of God’s “lighthouse” would draw all men to safety.

In response to the ensuing community assessment that members conducted, we transformed our Sabbath School rooms into a shelter for individuals and families five days per week and offered other vital community ministries. Later we developed 18 apartments and transitional and permanent townhomes that offered affordable housing to individuals and families with a low to moderate income. The church also sponsored a vibrant community health center.

The bold, open-door policy of this pastor has continued to cause many individuals to experience God’s love and the amazing joy of living a Christ-centered life, all because members dared to put themselves in others’ shoes.

As we prepare to respond to weather-related disasters that this hurricane season could bring, many opportunities might also be presented to rescue perishing souls from fatal and eternal destruction. An estimated 62 million people live within the Columbia Union territory, many of whom have not heard of Christ’s love. With each encounter, let us prayerfully consider, if our condition and their’s were reversed, what would we want them to do? Because, but by the grace of God …


Minnie McNeil is the Adventist Community Services/Disaster Response coordinator for the Columbia Union Conference and director for the Allegheny East Conference.

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