Compassion and Service Know No Age

Ms. Ruth celebrating her 101st birthday in November 2021.

Do you remember how old you were when you first served someone else? That’s not a memory that most of us can recall on command. Maybe, when you were much younger, your parents served regularly in compassion ministry and they brought you along. We have heard of many stories from around the country of children, who are now adults, that first served during an Inasmuch Day event with their church as a younger child. Or, maybe you became a Christian as a young adult and discovered the blessing of serving at that time.

Follow up question: How old were you when you began serving regularly? “Regularly” can definitely be subjective but I’m thinking specifically about serving on a more regular basis in some sort of compassion ministry. It is very common for people to step out of their comfort zone to serve for the first time, igniting a new passion for serving that they never knew they had. We often tell the true story of a mechanic who attended church regularly with his wife. He sat on the back row of the church and left each week just as quickly and quietly as he snuck in. Needless to say, he was not involved in any regular church activities. This particular church decided that they were going to do an Inasmuch Day to get their church more active in compassion ministry. This man was asked by the planning team to lead a car care clinic for single moms and widows. He actually never knew he could use his mechanic skills for ministry and said “Yes” to the opportunity to lead. 

After a very successful day of fixing cars for people who needed it the most, this mechanic, with others in the church, decided to do this more regularly. More and more free repairs for needy people eventually led to this group of mechanics hosting a regular ministry, eventually leading to the gifting of vehicles to deserving individuals in their area. 

Just maybe, as you are reading through this, you are thinking to yourself, “I really don’t serve in compassion ministry regularly NOW.” Well, let me encourage you today… IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO BEGIN! Compassion knows no age and you can begin to show compassion to people right where you are TODAY.

To prove my point, let me introduce you to Ms. Ruth. Ms. Ruth just turned 101 years old, and I recently had the privilege to speak to her and hear just some of her story. Deirdre, from the Portsmouth, VA Women’s Missionary Group, reached out to our office and wanted to buy Ms. Ruth a new Operation Inasmuch shirt. Apparently, Ms. Ruth lent her shirt to someone over the years, and it was returned with paint all over it. After inquiring more about Ms. Ruth and connecting with some of her family, they put me in touch with Ms. Ruth. She was actually working on a service project on her sewing machine as we spoke. And let me just say, Ms. Ruth was full of joy, funny and energetic, and simply delightful to talk with.

Ms. Ruth has been serving in Operation Inasmuch for the last 9 years through the Portsmouth Baptist Association. She is known for her work on the sewing machine, sewing drawstring bags for migrant workers on the Eastern shore of Virginia. Before she became involved with Inasmuch, Ms. Ruth was already serving on the Eastern Shore. At the age of 75, Ms. Ruth began packing lunches and serving food for these same migrant workers on the Eastern Shore. Ms. Ruth laughed, “I can’t go to China but I can go to the Eastern Shore.”

That’s right… age 75 is when Ms. Ruth began her compassion ministry journey. 26 years of caring for and blessing the migrant workers and their children on the Eastern shore of Virginia. Ms. Ruth led a full life, raising 4 children. Having 6 children myself, I know that the home has to be the primary mission field for many years. 

“They [the family] kept me pretty busy for a big part of my adult life”, explained Ms. Ruth. At age 75, the vast majority of people are slowing down in many aspects of life. I asked Ms. Ruth what got her started serving and what keeps her motivated and passionate to continue. Her answer was fairly simple, yet highly impactful, “It can’t be about me, myself, and I all of the time.” 

Deirdre is so blessed by Ms. Ruth, she wants to make sure that she has her very own Operation Inasmuch shirt again. Deirdre said, “I want to replace hers because even if she can’t [physically] come out to the next Inasmuch event, she is still sewing items and working from home for the kingdom in her 100s!!”

What a lesson and example to all of us! Ms. Ruth continues to serve and be a beacon of compassion in the Portsmouth, VA community. So, do not ever let age keep you from using your talents and abilities to serve others for Jesus. Compassion and service knows no age! Today seems like a great day to show compassion and love to someone in need. 

Written by:
Gene Whaley

Ministry Director

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