One of my best friends from high school youth group named Dan Allen, who graduated the same year as I did, also became a pastor and ministry leader. (This is the big guy with the deep voice who visited at Tri-State Fellowship a few years ago.) He now directs a discipleship ministry and is on an annual missions trip he takes to India.
Here is an update he shared today. And since I know you all are terribly lonely this week without the daily devotionals (that begin again this coming Monday), I thought I’d share this wonderful article with you….
From Southeast Asia – #3 – All Alone Among 1.35 Billion People
Oh, I’m not talking about me. Sure, as I write this I am sitting alone while outside my window are approximately 25 million Delhitians. But I read about an 87–year–old village widow who at night painstakingly takes a sheet of blank paper, folds it and puts in the window of her crumbling house. At dawn she removes the paper indicating to her neighbors that she made it through the night. The newspaper noted—she might be the loneliest old woman in this second–most–populated country in the world.
I was heartbroken when I read that. Is it too much for neighbors to drop in once in a while? Is there not anyone there who cares for her?
Flip the page from a woman of rags to one of riches, a wealthy movie star, Anne Hathaway says: “the thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone which will care for me.” I don’t know anything about her, but she must be surrounded by all sorts of friends and colleagues, as well as paparazzi and leeches. People would be lining up to be her friend. Yet, there’s an emptiness, monophobia.
The UK has a supposed answer to loneliness, or at least they are trying to address the problem. In January the Theresa May government appointed a Minister of Loneliness to start looking into how they can help the estimated 9–million people in her country who often or always feel lonely. In fact, government research has found that about 200,000 older people in Britain had not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. What? Are you serious?
The Facebook post with a picture of an idyllic cabin in the woods read something like “Could you live here for 365 days without any contact with the outside world to receive $365,000?” I commented: “Could my family get the money if I killed myself after two weeks?”
We are not an island. We are created to be in fellowship with others. Loneliness leads to depression, and depression often leads to suicide. Could this be one of the reasons the suicide rate in the US rose 28 percent between 1999 and 2016? Surrounded by people, but no one to talk to.
Listen friend, there is no reason for loneliness in the church. We’re a family and need to look out for each other. So how about the next time you see someone sitting by themselves in church, you join them? Why not get a list of shut–ins from your pastor and visit one at least once–a–month? It’s the least you can do. And this might keep them from using a piece of paper in their window as a signal if they are dead or alive.