Years ago I read about a man named Vincenzo “Vinnie” Ricardo, a resident of Hampton Bays, NY. According to news sources, the 70-year-old died while watching television at his home (see the Fox News story here). The sad part of the story is that he remained there for one year before anyone discovered his body. He might have remained there even longer had pipes at his home not burst during a cold spell; city workers discovered his mummified body still sitting on the couch, his television still on. Because of cool temperatures and dry conditions in the home, his body was well-preserved, leaving his facial features and hair intact. Medical examiners said they had never seen anyone dead this long. As it turns out, Mr. Ricardo was in his 50s, was blind, and was estranged from his family. Only one neighbor dropped in to read him his mail and pay his bills, but she quit stopping by when he continued to press her for more of her time. Other neighbors never noticed that he had quit wandering in the streets with his cane. One neighbor said, “I didn’t really know him that well, but apparently nobody did.”
This story reinforces the need we all have for relationships. It is so important to help people develop relationships in our Sunday Schools and small groups. You may have a Vincenzo Ricardos on your group’s ministry list…a person who used to attend, but you haven’t seen in a while now. Do you know why they are missing? Do you know their story? One of the great tasks given to the Sunday School is to shepherd people and help them develop relationships with one another. Dick Murray, in his book Strengthening The Adult Sunday School, said, “It is a myth that most adults attend Sunday School primarily to learn. People attend for fellowship and friends.”
Look over your group’s list of members, and ask yourself, “Are there any Vincenzo Ricardos here?” If the answer is yes, then do one of more of the following:
- Call the person.
- E-mail them.
- Go by their home and make a short “porch visit”
People pull away from groups for all kinds of reasons. Make sure you know the reason why your group’s absentees are absent.
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