Current and Archived News Stories
By Pat Humphrey
If your impression of people in their senior years conjures up a mental picture of nursing homes, dementia, and rocking chairs, you’ve probably never met Audrey French and Norma Gonzalez from Silver City, New Mexico. These two retired senior citizens, ages 90 and 69, respectively, are full of vitality and enthusiasm — especially when it comes to working for the Lord.
Inspired by a desire to do their part to help finish the work, Audrey and Norma combined their efforts a couple of years ago, at the conclusion of an evangelistic effort at their church, to establish a ministry known as Gospel Feet Ministry. It all began when Audrey woke up in the middle of the night with a burden on her heart. “God impressed me that we needed to get out there and do something to win souls for the Lord,” Audrey says. “I wasn’t sure exactly how to get started, but I figured the best thing I could do was go out and start knocking on doors.” The very next day Audrey contacted her good friend, Norma, and asked if she would partner with her in this ministry.
Audrey French and Norma Gonzalez meet with members of their community.
“When Audrey called me, I was already on overload,” Norma admits. “But I prayed about it and God laid it on my heart to get involved. He brought to my mind the Bible text in Isaiah 52:7, which says, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,’ so we decided to name our outreach Gospel Feet Ministry.”
Despite Audrey having to use a walker as a result of an accident, the two have been “on the go” ever since, taking the good news of the gospel to as many people as they can reach. “It’s amazing,” Audrey says, “that whenever I’m doing this work, I carry my witnessing supplies in my walker, and I don’t feel any pain. But most other times I’m in a lot of pain.”
The ministry plan is quite simple — one that almost anyone can do, ideally, going out two by two. Audrey and Norma go door-to-door in their community of Silver City and invite people to respond to a short survey, which starts off with questions about people’s interest in healthful living. Depending on the interests expressed, they offer to lend the respondents DVDs on such topics as managing stress, quitting smoking, and reversing diabetes. After handing out the DVDs they say, “We’ll be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the DVDs and answer any questions you might have.” This gives them an opportunity to go back and establish an ongoing relationship with those who express interest.
During the second portion of the survey Audrey and Norma ask respondents if they happen to be involved in any community or group Bible studies. This provides a non-threating opportunity to establish an interest. Depending on the response, they hand the person a Bible study pamphlet and ask if they are interested in taking Bible studies. Before leaving, they also offer to take prayer requests and ask if the person needs help with any small jobs around the house. This has resulted in helping a man whose hedges needed trimming, a woman who needed help clearing a walkway, and a veteran who needed help with his garden.
“We tell people that we are interested in the needs of the community. We let them know that we want to help them in whatever way we can, and then we offer to help them,” Norma says.
“Whenever we go to a door, even if the person isn’t interested in studying the Bible, we always leave something with them,” Audrey says. A made-with-love “care packet” consisting of a rubber band, a candle, a Band-Aid, a penny, a toothpick, chewing gum, a mint, and a facial tissue, also contains a tiny handout with encouraging Bible texts that correspond to each item in the packet. For example, the text corresponding to the rubber band says: “God’s love binds us together. John 15:12, 13.” The mint reminds recipients that “you are worth more than a mint to your heavenly Father. John 3:16, 17.”
“Everybody loves that packet!” Norma shares with enthusiasm.
A Team Effort
The Silver City church, a small church of about 30 members, supplies the funds to provide Bibles, Steps to Christ, Bible study pamphlets, and care packets that Audrey and Norma distribute through their ministry. “They [Silver City church members] are a prime example of demonstrating the concept that ‘you can’t out-give the Lord,’” says Norma. The two missionaries are grateful for the generous support of their church members.
While Gospel Feet Ministries is making great strides in reaching their community, Audrey and Norma are convicted that there is much more to be done and that finishing the work requires every church member to be involved. “My hope is that this idea will be passed on,” says Audrey. “Time is short. And the members of the church [at large] need to get out and finish this work.”
And Norma concurs. “We all need to be involved in reaching out to precious souls. Just pray, and the Lord will reveal something that you can do to witness for souls,” she says.
Audrey is committed, not only to going out and witnessing to her neighbors, but to helping others to do the same. “I’m on a fixed income,” she says. “But if anyone is interested in starting a ministry like this, I would be willing to send them a packet. We don’t know what the future holds. We need to work now, while we still have the opportunity.”
— This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2016 Southwestern Union Record.