Bruce McIlrevey died last week. He was not known by many. Afflicted with hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”), Bruce lived at Manor Care, an assisted living home and rehab facility in Sarasota. He wore braces on his legs and stuttered/mumbled simple sentences, but his impact for the Kingdom of God was great.
Bruce was THE man whom God used to begin our ministry at Manor Care. Seven years ago, I picked up a “random” phone call from Bruce. He asked prayer for the voices in his head to go away. After our prayer, learning where he was, and offering to visit him later with Holy Communion, a relationship of regular visitation began. Slowly but surely, as our presence was established at Manor Care, visiting Bruce, but also others we met along the way. So, the nurse aids and staff trusted CHS to let us hold a monthly worship service there. A few years later, they asked CHS to do another monthly service – this time with the residents in the Alzheimer’s Unit. And then a few years later, the ministry expanded yet again to include a CHS member and her pet therapy with the residents and patients at Manor Care.
But Bruce was the springboard for it all. Through the many people, conversations, Bible studies, healings, baptisms, salvations, encouragement, comfort, and laughs experienced in this ministry over the years at Manor Care, Bruce was the constant one we visited. More amazing were the many lessons Bruce showed by his simple faith and life:
The importance of regular confession; he insisted on praying it.
Holy Communion is healing and sustaining. Sometimes, he called to confirm if we were indeed coming with it.
Bruce loved to sing worship songs and hymns; praise and thanksgiving silences demons (i.e. the voices in his head). “I am the Bread of Life” and “Ode to Joy” were among his favorites.
Repeated Bible reading and prayers create mental pathways of refuge and truth that are immune to one’s physical affliction. Perhaps slightly autistic too, Bruce would actually tell us memorized hymn numbers, and he would complete the Bible story we were reading together.
One person’s willingness to worship can draw others to Jesus and change the atmosphere of an otherwise “sad” place. Bruce had many roommates through the years. Though distant at first, every one of them eventually participated in prayer and worship with Bruce.
Do not underestimate the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40), for often it is with them that God reveals himself most powerfully.
Thank you, Bruce, for all you showed us of Christ.
You will truly be missed…but met in glory again.
“I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life, even though he die” (BCP 491).