9600 E Mill Plain Blvd Vancouver, WA 98664  (360) 892-5520

The Evergreen Hospital

The 11am service last weekend included a surprise none of us could have anticipated. A young man in hospital scrubs joined me on the platform about five minutes into the message. No one knew for sure what was happening, especially those watching the livestream, and at least one thought it was part of a skit I had arranged. But God was the only one who really knew the script and the rest of us were doing improv.

The gentleman had come in the sanctuary only a few minutes before and sat in the front row. A handful of signs indicated this was not a typical first-time guest. As I was starting the sermon, I hoped he might be able to just sit quietly take in the message, but that hope was quickly dispelled. He began by responding to things I was saying, short statements of agreement and adding his own comments, and the next thing I knew he was making his way onto the platform with a clear desire to address the congregation.

Right or wrong, I decided to let the fellow talk a moment. He said his name was Philippe and that he was ordained to share a message from God. Although he was speaking fairly coherently, it was clear to me this was not a case of a person simply trying to co-opt a service to spread his peculiar doctrines. There was clearly some mental confusion involved as well.

However, it soon became apparent he would be happy to share as long as we let him and that’s when I noticed a few of our men stepping up to help. Ed Conzatti especially did a beautiful job engaging Philippe firmly yet kindly, and eventually helped guide him off the platform and into the foyer.

We are reviewing this situation to see how we can better respond to guests with special needs in the future. This is important because I believe that with the increasing upheaval in our country, we will be called to minister to many people with pressing needs. Our building is situated on a major thoroughfare, right at a bus stop and only a few blocks from PeaceHealth Hospital. Yesterday, we had another person fresh out of the hospital come by the church in great need of help and Pastor Matt led the effort with several of our members to minister to her. That help is continuing this morning. This simply underscores my expectation that Evergreen’s emergency room ministry will increase in the days ahead.

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Pastor Toby

Categories: Evergreen Connection