Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 9, 2012

Clarence … it’s a wonderful life

Yesterday didn’t have much of that Christmas season feel to me … until last night! My wife was the emcee at an appreciation concert for a ministry that helps the hurting in our area.  I thought it was a great thing for her to do, but I wasn’t really into it. You may not be like me, but sometimes I get just a bit too selfish with my time. But since my wife chose to volunteer my participation, I had to be there.  And I am glad I did! There was incredible talent displayed in those who entertained us, but the evening held more than great music for me.  Would you like to know why?

When I heard the story of how the ministry of helps started, I was reminded again of our All Knowing God who really cares. And after listening to the founder of this ministry speak, I deleted the article that I had already started to write for today.  For me, it is frankly difficult to transition from the insane commercial aspects of Christmas into the real purpose of why we celebrate. But after listening to the founder speak, the stage is set for a good Christmas this year.  God is the ultimate helper of the hurting! He gave us His Son, born in a manger, hung on a cross and raised from the dead to redeem us.

As you read the story of this ministry of helps as I heard it, think of  the words of Warren Wiersbe, taken from his  book entitled  Wiersbe’s  Expository Outlines on the Old Testament.  “God’s name is nowhere seen in this book (Esther), but God‘s hand is nowhere missing!  He is “standing somewhere in the shadows” ruling and overruling.  I believe He does the same today.

One day 18 years ago, my wife’s friend Clarence received a phone call from a total stranger.  The caller was desperate, and told him that some nuns from a hospital had given her his name and number.  Clarence thought that was odd since he didn’t know any nuns.  After hearing Bertha’s story laced with tragedy and pain, Clarence got some others to help him, and they ministered to the needs of Bertha’s family.  But the story doesn’t end there.  Bertha was later admitted to the hospital with a serious condition, and felt the need to write Clarence a letter.  She wanted him to know that she had lied about their introduction. There were no nuns … it was a phone book.  As she kneeled, crying out to God for help (Bertha had two daughters and six grandchildren living with her – and no hope), she opened a phone book in front of her.  By divine providence, Clarence’s appeared to be larger and bolder than all the rest — so she dialed his number!  But the story doesn’t end there.  In doing the math, I calculated Clarence was about 70 years old when Bertha called him with the nun story. He is going to be 89 next month, and his ministry of helps that was started by a phone book is still vibrant today.  It might also interest you to know that his ministry has cared for over 6,000 people in our area. The greater good of this ministry is the hundreds and even thousands of people who have been given the message of real help and real hope through Jesus Christ.  And before you start thinking that this is one of those nice stories, but not really true … I must tell you that Bertha was at the appreciation concert last night.

God is the ultimate giver of help, but all Christ followers can reflect His care in some small way during this Christmas season.  None of us is exempt from extending a loving hand that just may help change a life. As your friend, I want to gently challenge you to do something …

Over the next two weeks, find someone to help as part of your Christmas giving.  

Even the simplest act will rightly ready you for the celebration of Christmas.  And then, don’t settle for just helping at the holidays.  It’s a wonderful life — let yours speak as Clarence’s has.  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor…” (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32, Matt. 9:12)


  1. I too have had the pleasure of knowing Clarence. What a Godly example he has provided for men over many years. Let Clarence’s example motivate you to look for opportunities to help others all year long.

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