Sunday, June 12, 2016

My friend Ms. Emily

I remember when Emily Hinderliter approached Martha and me to talk about volunteering with Love In Action. Emily and her husband, Ricky, shared a story with us. Well, Ricky didn't really have a chance to talk much, which we soon discovered was the norm. With Emily, nobody had much of a chance to get a word in.

Emily shared about seeing a homeless man with no shoes at a gas station on a recent trip her and Ricky had taken. She said they didn't know what to do. The image of the "man with no shoes" stayed in her mind. It bothered her that she didn't do anything. She said they could have bought him some shoes or they could have given him a pair of Ricky's shoes. She didn't ever want to miss another opportunity, so she wanted to volunteer with Love In Action.

We were thankful to have both of them with LIA. Emily's vision was to begin a Celebrate Recovery. She said she was retired and got social security, so she had plenty of time. "I just breath and the government sends me a check," she told us. "It's a wonderful thing."

Emily's humor was dry, sarcastic and hilarious. We quickly fell in love with her and Ricky, and told her we would love to have Celebrate Recovery as part of LIA. She was true to her word. She started it and grew it, and she worked nonstop.

We didn't know how many people would attend, but if we helped one person it would be worth it. We had no idea we would have 125 people on Tuesday nights at the LIA Ministry Center, which was located at that time in a warehouse on the Montgomery Highway in Dothan, Ala. Hundreds of people gave their lives to Jesus through Celebrate Recovery.

At 11:49 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, Emily died following a couple of days in the hospital following a massive heart attack. At that moment, I have no doubt she heard Jesus tell her, "Well done, good and faithful servant ... Enter into the joy of your master." And, she was also reunited with her beloved Ricky, who died last year.

She helped many homeless people at LIA. I'll never forget when she convinced someone to donate a car so we could give it to a homeless man to help him improve his life. Charles was stunned the night she gave him the car keys. She put it in a lunch box and presented it to him. He opened it and found the keys. He asked what were the keys for. She told him he would need them to drive his new car to work. He cried. Emily cried. We all cried.

When I think of Emily's "Man with no shoes," I think about her going to Baton Rouge with us. We took a cargo trailer filled with hundreds of pairs of boots. She helped us give them out to the homeless. She was happy and thrilled that she was able to give shoes to the homeless. Though it wasn't the "Man with no shoes" she had seen more than a year earlier, it certainly made her heart smile helping so many homeless people with shoes.

Emily's desire to reach as many people for Jesus didn't stop in Dothan and Baton Rouge. She traveled to Shell, Ecuador, with us. We worked at an orphanage called Casa de Fe. Emily's mission, however, was not the children directly, but rather indirectly. Alcoholism and drug use is a big problem in Ecuador. Her goal was to teach Celebrate Recovery to ministry leaders in Shell, so they can begin a program to help adults overcome their addictions, therefore, helping the children as well.

Emily and Ms. Judy taught the course and gave all of the literature and books to begin a CR program in Shell. What an awesome blessing. Those ministry leaders in Ecuador were so thankful and excited.

Those three years of ministering with Emily were wonderful. She taught me a lot, and brought a lot of joy into mine and Martha's lives and to so many others.

We are thankful we will see her again in Heaven. I know we will see many, many others in Heaven who gave their lives to Jesus because of Emily being faithful to God's call on her life. She fulfilled that calling, and now she is reaping the rewards of her labor. She has "fought the good fight" and has "finished the race."

We pray for God to comfort her family as they will miss her tremendously. Many people will miss her. I thank God for memories, for we still have those and we will carry memories of Emily with us for the rest of our lives.

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