To hear about Robert is to hear the heart of God. To speak with him is inspiring, and maybe that’s because he has a gift of hearing God’s voice. Susan Galindo, our Believer’s Garden Special Needs Ministry Director, has the privilege of witnessing the ways in which Robert’s faith is put into action weekly. “He’s a giver,” says Susan. This attribute was never more apparent than through a simple but powerful act Susan, Linda Hearne and Kacey Wernli had the opportunity to witness one Sunday morning during a Believer’s Garden service.
During one of these services, Kacey and Linda came to speak about their amazing and impactful work in Senegal. Senegal has long been a place where University goes on mission, and over the years, Linda and her team have established relationships and learned of the deepest needs of the people. Linda and Kacey, along with a team of 13 others, are preparing for an upcoming trip that will provide medical aid. More specifically, Kacey will use her background in physical therapy to bless children with special needs by equipping them with shoes, socks, Ankle Foot Orthotics, gait trainers, walkers, standing frames and chairs. Several of these children with special needs are bound to the floor because they cannot walk. Beds in Senegal are small, thin mats on the floor, and this is where these children spend the majority of their time. They eat in the dirt, and they have little support for their necks to promote correct swallowing techniques. The Senegal team will provide these children with the equipment they need to make changes that will impact their quality of life. Kacey and Linda visited the Believer’s Garden service and through words and pictures shared the needs of this mission team and the powerful work they will be doing.
It was in this moment, mid-presentation, when Robert heard God’s voice. “God told me to give my only dollar to help them get braces and new shoes.” He listened. In the midst of Kacey talking about this mission trip, Robert felt so moved by the Holy Spirit and the need these children had, that he rose from his chair, walked to the front and gave his only dollar. He gave his only dollar. God spoke to the heart of Robert, and Robert listened.
The significance of this single dollar was that it was purposefully given to Robert so he could purchase a coke from the vending machine after the service. He gave that dollar away to bless the lives of children he didn’t know, but whose hardships he could relate to. He says the connection he felt is similar to what draws him to attend Believer’s Garden, Sunday school for special needs and Bingo. He says it is in these spaces that he can be with others like him and talk to God with them.
Robert’s act of generosity goes far beyond walking to the front of the room and giving monetarily. As I learned more about Robert, it was apparent that he lives his life giving to others. Susan says that he is “blessed with the gift of evangelism.” He is generous with his love as he volunteers regularly to pray and lift up others, bless the offering and asks for discernment on when and how to share about Jesus in the right way and at the right moment. Robert gives of his time when he plays in the Joyful Praise Chime Choir and the Believer’s Garden Choir. He is in the front row singing his praise to God and filling others with a joyful spirit that exudes in everything he does.
For Robert, generosity is simple, “God wants me to spread His love.”