by Pam Tinsley
There’s something special about Toby: He’s big and lumbering and has sad brown eyes that have a way of drawing you to him, making you feel comfortable around him, helping you feel safe. Toby frequently visits children’s hospitals and nursing facilities, in and around the South Puget Sound and also in Houston. When he enters a room in a nursing home, he is welcomed with joyful smiles. Children love to nestle in his fur and crawl over him. Oh, yes, by the way, Toby is a 165 pound St. Bernard – a therapy dog with his own Facebook page! Toby’s person Stan has a demanding professional life, yet he makes it a priority to create time to minister to others with Toby.
I think that sometimes we look around and see such tragedy and desperate need in the world that we wonder whether we can make any difference. We might become overwhelmed and even paralyzed. Yet, all it takes to reveal God’s love for the world is to show kindness to just one other person in our daily lives.
Stan and Toby are examples of what we can do if we combine our passion and compassion. In Stan’s case, he combines his love of dogs and his compassion for others into a ministry that touches countless ill children, seniors, families, and healthcare workers by showing them God’s love – in the midst of the ordinary. Although being faithful to Christ is really a small step for Stan, visiting patients together with Toby leads to a profound sense of healing and well-being to those whose lives they touch.