Find Your Ed and Ruby
By Rino Dattilo
Nearly 20 years ago, my wife, Brenda, and I came to reopen a
church that had struggled and finally closed its doors. It was a daunting task,
and we felt the burden of responsibility almost as if it rested on our
shoulders alone. And then we met the Ericksons.
I first met Ed Erickson indirectly. He and Ruby were on
vacation, and I called Ed because I was told he had some keys I needed. Ed
quickly told me where I would find them. He asked me if we had a place to stay
yet, to which I told him no.
“No problem, pastor,” he said. “The key to my home is hidden
in a box. Go ahead over to our place and make yourself welcome.”
I really didn’t want to be obligated to anyone, so we
continued to camp out in the church and work on the building.
When the Ericksons returned from vacation, they lost no time
in rejoining our fledgling congregation of 18. Soon, they asked if it was all
right if they did some yard work. The church was such a disaster we needed any
help we could get. They would come out almost every day. You could set your
clock by Ed and Ruby.
A few months later, Ed asked if they could come to the
church and pray. Was it possible for them to have a key so Ruby could play the
organ and they could pray? I gave them a key.
Every day as I would walk into the building, Ed and Ruby
would be there. Ed would be in his usual spot in the fourth row of pews, crying
and praying. Praying for revival. Praying for his family. Praying for the needs
of the church. Praying for their pastors — Brenda and me. Ruby would be
at the organ, praying as fervently as Ed while she played. The building rang
with their prayers and worship.
I had the honor of pastoring and growing with Ed and Ruby
for more than 15 years. First, God called Ed home, then a few years back, Ruby.
I miss them. But what I miss more is hearing their prayers and being the
recipient of their prayers. Ed and Ruby had a passion. They lived for this
church to succeed.
One afternoon as I was taking a power nap (I love those), I
was awakened with a vivid mental picture. I saw a balance type of scale. On one
side were prayer warriors like Ed and Ruby. On the other, the world’s many
needs. The scale was leaning heavily on the world’s side.
I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me that the Eds and Rubys are
going home, and no one is taking their place. The scale is out of balance. We
need more people to rise up and take the mantle and pray. Not a conference. Not
a prayer meeting. Just people who pray.
But how, I wondered.
Just ask them, they are there, I sensed the Holy Spirit say.
So I did that very night, and today we have more people
praying than ever. I still miss Ed and Ruby, but I see baby “Eds” and “Rubys”
taking their baby steps to becoming men and women of prayer.
We must enlist people to pray. And if your “Ed” and “Ruby”
are still alive, love them, respect them, but most of all, ask them to train up
the next generation of prayer warriors. The church needs them.
We all do.
RINO DATTILO is pastor of South Coast Church, an Assemblies
of God congregation, in Goleta, Calif.
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