We had a medical emergency last Sunday during our gathering at Restore. It was one of those “they don’t teach you this in seminary” moments.
I was in the middle of preaching when I looked over and saw that someone I know (an older man named Danny) had passed out and his sister was trying to wake him up.
I stopped preaching and said, “Does he need a doctor?”
His sister and niece both looked at me and said yes.
Before I could get my phone out, multiple people in the congregation were calling 911, and five medical professionals who go to Restore had run over to start treating him.
They were able to get him breathing again. Other folks started praying, moving chairs, flagging the ambulance down, clearing a path for the paramedics.
I didn’t even ask. They just did it.
We dismissed everyone to the lobby as we heard the ambulance approaching. The paramedics arrived, put Danny on a gurney and took him to the ambulance. I was dazed. Some of our elders and pastors came over to talk with me. We made a quick plan and walked out to the lobby to see if anyone was still there.
No one had left. Literally no one. I was moved to tears.
I gave everyone an update on Danny (he was stabilizing and on his way to the ER) and then told our folks how proud I was of them. They saw someone in need, and they sprang into action.
Who cares about the sermon?
Who cares about the service?
Our brother needed help, and they did whatever they could to provide it, because people always, always come first.
“Our brother needed help, and they did whatever they could to provide it, because people always, always come first.”
We prayed, and then our elders and pastors were available to talk or pray with anyone who wanted to process what happened. I ended up sitting down with three women in their 20s. They were in different places on their spiritual journey, but it was the first time at Restore for all of them.
I started out by apologizing that this was their first Sunday and asked if they were doing OK. Each of them, in turn, told me they’d never experienced anything like it. They talked about the feeling of pure love in the room — not just during the emergency, but the whole time. Even though one grew up in and out of church, one had been a Christian for only two years, and the other was previously on church staffs, they all said it was the most they’d ever felt God’s love present in a faith community.
I was blown away.
A church member described it like this in a post: “It was undoubtedly such a jolting upsetting thing for our pastor and everyone in the immediate proximity to the emergency, but since I was far on the other side and not able to see up close, the most palpable thing to me was just all the love in the air, manifested in quiet service. As scared as his family probably was, the atmosphere at large was genuinely peaceful.”
She said it perfectly, and I’ve honestly never experienced anything like it.
So much love in the air.
So much quiet service.
So much Jesus.
“I’ve rarely been prouder to be a pastor than I was today.”
I’ve rarely been prouder to be a pastor than I was today.
Danny is doing much better and is back home. I’ve lost count of the number of texts, DMs and calls I’ve gotten checking on him. Scripture says we are supposed to “spur one another on to love and good deeds.” I hope I inspire our folks on occasion, but I honestly feel like they are the ones who do most of the spurring.
I am in awe of our community at Restore.
Most of the people here have been unspeakably traumatized by churches and Christians, yet they refuse to give up.
They refuse to give up on loving God and loving their neighbor. They refuse to give up on Jesus.
And it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Zach Lambert serves as lead pastor of Restore Austin, a congregation in Austin, Texas.
How a 5-minute phone call changed my view of being a pastor | Opinion by Zach Lambert