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Binding up the Wounds of the Broken-Hearted

Vickie Sigmon (Advance #982916), has served as a Church and Community Worker in North Carolina since 1985. Here is one of her stories:

"Do they have anyone who can help," the police officer asked as he gestured to the woman who sat on the dark street curb clutching her four young children. Stunned and exhausted, the children were no longer sobbing. Like shipwrecked survivors, abandoned and alone, the kids clung to their mom. Their anxious fear-filled eyes darted around as if a shark might suddenly emerge directly from the pavement where they huddled.

Four men had broken into the family's apartment, crashing through a bedroom window in the dead of night.

The intruders terrorized the family for 30 minutes. They stole potato chips, Barbie dolls, and modest Christmas gifts still in boxes. After the police left the crime scene, I noticed the living room couch was gone. "Donna, did the men steal the couch," I asked in bewilderment. "Si, Miss Vickie, si, si," Donna replied.

She speaks perfect English, but the trauma had left her almost mute. The men had loaded the low-value sofa directly into a pick-up truck waiting outside the back door. Finally, after slinging Donna across the room and injuring her arm—and instilling as much terror as possible into the hearts and minds of this extremely vulnerable family—the men left.

Vickie Sigmon with some of the children from the Open Arms Community in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo: Courtesy Vickie Sigmon.

Donna called me for help at midnight. Like Samuel, who heard God call as he lay on his pallet, I rose from my bed and responded to God's call. For 32 years, I have served as a Church and Community Worker of the General Board of Global Ministries. My primary task throughout the years has been to find help for people who have had their lives ripped apart and their hopes dashed. When lives are devastated, the causes can include crime, poverty, addiction, domestic abuse, low academic achievement, mental illness, racism, and socioeconomic prejudice. Sometimes, the causes overlap and the devastation seems total.

God hears the cries and God responds through everyday people like you and me. Every United Methodist mission anywhere in the world exists because United Methodists—like the prophet Isaiah—have answered God,

For 32 years, again and again, I have witnessed hundreds of ordinary people doing God's work wherever God sends them—into jails and prisons, ghettos and barrios, and sometimes into gated communities and high steeple churches—and it always seems like a miracle.

When the police asked if Donna's family had anyone who would help, I knew with certainty that United Methodists would help. Throughout that long night and into the hours of the next day, and the following days and weeks, Christian servants would walk beside Donna's family, help them heal and live beyond the trauma, and hold them tightly in God's love.

Vickie Sigmon, Church and Community Worker, North Carolina since 1985.

First published in New World Outlook magazine.

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