Moans and Groans

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Survivor Island: Singapore

by Isobel Robinson, Captain – 

In most ways it is a privilege to serve as the assistant executive director of Peacehaven—a large 339-bed nursing home with a staff of over 150 people, located on the east side of the island of Singapore. I have had the opportunity to meet and serve people from many countries and walks of life.

One of the hardest things about being in Singapore—apart from the interminable humidity and heat—is living on site at the Home. Not that my apartment is uncomfortable; for the most part I have all of the amenities that I need, including air conditioning units in each bedroom. Not bad for an officer on missionary or “reinforcement” duty as the politically correct like to call it today.

What haunts me is the never-ending noise of residents suffering from “brain failure” or dementia—the groaning that comes from the open planned building leading up to my home. In particular, one man and one woman alternate with a cacophony of unintelligible sounds that penetrate my surroundings almost all day and night. I have occasionally awakened around 3 a.m. to the sound of their moans, amplified by the stillness of the night.

A different cacophony of sound exists outside the complex, from the streets and the buses, the trains and the malls. Even the suburbs of Los Angeles and San Francisco, enormous communities by Singapore standards, present opportunities for quietness—to be still and to listen for God. Lately I have wondered if I would ever have that chance here.

Indeed I would hear from God. But it would not be in the quiet of the day or the stillness of the night. In fact, He spoke to me through the groans that seemed to so disturb my peace. He reminded me that rather than complaining about these noises that no one could silence, especially those making them, I should offer a prayer for them every time I felt myself getting annoyed.

God questioned me, “How do you know that it is not my Spirit who is speaking on their behalf, crying out to me because of their pain? Perhaps their groans beseech me to forgive them, to save them, or to save a loved one for whom they have been praying for years—the memory of them now lost in the recesses of a mind that can no longer connect with your world, speechless and memory-less… but not without feeling.”

So today, even as I move among the groans that come from the shells of people whose identity is being eroded by the disease process, I am reminded to pray. To pray for them, for their families, for their nurses, for their salvation, and so, as if by default, I find myself praying without ceasing about all things and giving thanks to God for the privilege of a sound mind with which I can make judgments about everything. As his word says…after all, I have the mind of Christ.

In addition to their responsibilities as directors of Peacehaven Nursing Home, Captains Ian and Isobel Robinson have recently been appointed directors of evangelism and creative ministries for the Command, covering Singapore and Malaysia.

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