By Sister Terry Walter
When I look for a new ministry there’s always a sense of call that I look for. This sense of call is not only an awareness that God is calling me to this ministry, but more specifically that the Blood of Christ is calling me to the ministry. The suffering and violence of victims call to me. When I returned to the States after 15 years in Guatemala I didn’t expect to find another ministry in which this Call of the Blood was as strong as it was there. I heard the Call at Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino, California. I work in a supportive housing program for homeless persons who have HIV (and often other health problems also). My job is two-fold: to do emotional healing work that helps persons keep their immune system as healthy as possible and to be the overall director of the program.
The other day I was visiting the house on Virginia Street. Richard lives there along with three other people. He was depressed because his ex-wife was trying to keep him from seeing his children. He had a couple of razor blades that he was saying would end his pain. After a little conversation and some healing prayer he handed over the razor blades and he promised to live. Besides having HIV, Richard is a parolee and a recovering addict. His life is precious to me. I will do everything I can to protect his life from the forces that want him dead. I will do everything I can to value his life, so that his gifts are not wasted. This is one example of how Precious Blood spirituality motivates me to see the preciousness of life.
These days I’m praying hard for Erick, a drinker who’s been pulling other people down with him into addiction. He’s comfortable in his lifestyle and pays no attention to our rules and regulations that help keep harmony in our houses. We’ve found it necessary to evict him. I do that with regret because I don’t want to see him lost. I pray for him that he might find the motivation in his life to better himself. I think of one of our Precious Blood phrases when I worry about Erick: Let not one drop of Christ’s Precious Blood be shed in vain. I know that God doesn’t want to lose Erick even if Erick prefers to be lost. I know that God’s salvation will find its way into Erick’s life some day. I hope and pray that our action with him brings him to his senses and helps him find God’s way for him.
Anthony died last week. He died of cancer, although he also had HIV, Hepatitis C, diabetes, and pneumonia. He was Jewish, with a great devotion to Father Abraham. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was grateful, never complaining. He died in the hospital after having been on a respirator for a week or so. I prayed the Jewish prayers for the dying over him. His life and his suffering were precious to God as they were to us. His death he saw as his reunion with Father Abraham. Visiting him was difficult when he was coughing so much, when he was dying, but it was important to accompany him, to wait at his cross.
My favorite thing about these 36 persons who live in our 12 houses is their variety. They are black, white, Latino, Native American and all combinations thereof. They are straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, cross-dressers, former exotic dancers. There is also a variety of experiences with sin and grace, some saved, some not yet, others not interested. We have fun parties together. No one can afford to judge anyone else. All are welcome at our Table. The drawing together in these celebrations of table fellowship is the Eucharistic part of Precious Blood Spirituality. There I too am fed.