“God has given me two more children. You and Aaron are now my godson and goddaughter.”

The touching words are from a dear sister in Christ: a Holy Spirit filled prayer warrior who is mantled with meekness. But less than three weeks ago, I didn’t know she existed. In a story I will eventually detail, my husband was entering transplant surgery for his liver after a hidden autoimmune disorder wiped it out. The final decline was wicked and rapid. He was fast tracked through the transplant process and was now in the surgeon’s and God’s hands. There was no place to go but the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) waiting room. Stiff chairs with strategically placed armrests to discourage any form of laying down circled the walls. A few women talked together near the entrance. One looked like she was staying the night, bags and a blanket around her, and a chair pulled up to rest her feet on.

I would soon know her as Patsy.

My husband wasn’t finished with surgery until around 9pm, and I didn’t get to see him until close to 11pm. Lines were everywhere. He was still on the ventilator. It was a scene I had been prepared for, but was still hard to witness. I soon trudged back to the waiting room, operating on little more than an hour of sleep in the past 48 hours. When I said it went fast, it was fast. By now it was too late to think about going to find a hotel.

“You staying?” Patsy greeted me warmly. She pointed out clean blankets and pillows she had gathered from others who made the “circle of life” (as she coined it) through the SICU waiting room. Were they clean? I had no reason at all to trust this stranger in a strange town and strange hospital, but no alarm bells rang. Patsy was as genuine as any person could be upon first meeting. I thanked her and grabbed a pillow and blanket.

“Pull up a chair and rest your feet, like I have,” Patsy instructed. It was not comfortable, but it was the best comfort to be found in that waiting room. I did get about 3 hours of sleep, much more than the night before.

A morning shot of bleary eyed me and my SICU bed.

The next morning, there was a prayer circle in that waiting room before SICU visiting hours started. Ed, a deacon whose wife was fighting for her life, led. His whole family circled around him and Patsy and prayed. Everyone there was welcome to join. I got a vision of the Holy Spirit flying into thick dark storm clouds for Ed and did my best to sketch it with an old ballpoint pen and lined paper.

“Its the best I can do, I would love to have painted it for you, but this is all the supplies I have. I know that God is intimately aware of what you are going through and no matter how dark it seems, he is there and fighting for you.”

It didn’t seem like much, but despite the fact my heart was in pain for my situation, I so wanted to reach others in similar or worse pain. The somber feeling of the SICU waiting room is clear. Family gathers there waiting and praying for a ray of hope. Some face certain death. Some are having severe difficulty. And some, like my husband, were recovering from intensive surgery that required one-on-one nursing support in the critical days after. The hurt is so overpowering that it can been seen and felt.

And yet there is hope. Just as I gave Ed a word and vision, he gave me a word on my husband the following day. He didn’t know it, but he declared exactly what had been happening and was at least he fourth person to confirm a particular calling of the Lord. Ed and I eventually moved on to other floors, but Patsy had been in that SICU waiting room for two weeks straight and the Lord had a calling on her to stay longer.

“I always wanted a church and people to minister to,” she shared at one point.

“God has given you the SICU church,” I said while in prayer for her husband and her at one point. It was so clear. Patsy was that ministering embrace. She knew most everyone in the halls and so many greeted with warm hellos and hugs. She was given a notebook and began writing down names so that she could pray for people. Others gave her gorgeous dresses. She became a mother to so many in a place that held little hope. And she could pray fervently and effectively with just a few words.

Patsy continued that prayer circle and and we affectionately called the waiting room “The War Room”, after Ed encouraged us to watch the movie. So much love, scripture, and passionate calls to Christ rose in that war room. We saw people being affected, both those in the circle and those that chose to sit out. God’s hand has been heavy in Patsy’s War Room Church.

We went back to visit her at Aaron’s followup appointment. Patsy came gliding through the doors, looking like an angel with her vivid pink dress flowing around her. She hugs like a mother and gives sweet encouragement as only one who has been through deepest trial can muster. Oh that we all would strive to be that light like Patsy has chosen to be in the dark places that life leads us! The greatest missions of Christ can be accomplished with a prayer and love and genuine caring for others. There’s no special platform or building needed. There doesn’t need to be hundreds or even thousands of followers. There just needs to be one person reflecting the love of God.

May we all recognize that we carry the church within us. May we all strive to be more like Jesus, pouring out on others in our darkest times, and in some of the saddest places.

Thank you, Patsy, for being that light.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16