Thanks to one local church's commitment to follow God's word in an act of service to others, a mother and daughter are being reunited after months apart.
Last Christmas Eve, best of friends Cynthia Bell and her mother, Edna Bell - both of Sumter …
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Last Christmas Eve, best of friends Cynthia Bell and her mother, Edna Bell - both of Sumter - were trying to figure out what they were going to do together on Christmas day.
Little did they know, it would be the last time they would see each other for four months.
On Christmas morning, Edna Bell, 97, fell and broke two ribs and was taken to the hospital. Since then, she's been unable to climb steps.
Turns out, Edna's accident was another fall among a string of them since last summer for the Bells that left them basically immobilized. Initially, Edna fell in July, breaking five ribs, and was hospitalized for 12 days, according to daughter Cynthia.
Then, Cynthia fell a series of times starting in September, breaking a bone in her left leg. She's been on crutches and unable to climb steps since.
Without wheelchair ramps at either of their homes, they were unable to visit one another during January, February, March and most of April despite the fact they live just around the corner from one another in the same neighborhood, their houses just three-tenths of a mile apart.
"We talk on the phone every day, but we used to be everywhere together," Cynthia said.
As of Saturday, their predicament and separation are now over, as a team of volunteers from Alice Drive Baptist Church put on their work clothes and rolled up their sleeves to construct a wheelchair ramp in the carport area of Cynthia's home on Chappell Street.
"Now, we can get somebody to drive her over and she can come up the ramp, sit down in the recliner inside, and we can spend the day together," Cynthia said. "I can be with my mama. Then, at night, somebody can pick her up and take her home. This will just make all the difference in the world and turn everything around for the both of us."
The church volunteers' service project was part of an outreach day for Alice Drive Baptist known as Operation Inasmuch, where church members and attendees commit to a day of community service projects to help the less fortunate in various ways.
It's all in the name of Jesus Christ, according to church members, and based on Jesus' parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew Chapter 25, verses 31-46.
In the biblical text at the final judgment, Jesus tells righteous believers in Him in verse 40 that whatever they did to one of the least of these (those in need in various ways), they did it for Him. Those righteous believers (the sheep) will experience reward at His return and eternal life, Jesus says in the parable.
In the deeper biblical context, the righteous inherit the kingdom and eternal life not because of the compassionate works that they have done, but because their righteousness comes from their transformed hearts in response to Jesus, as evidenced by their compassion for the "least of these."
The church's volunteers said they didn't mind spending the beautiful spring day helping Cynthia, a fellow church member, in her time of need. In fact, they said they enjoyed it.
Brandon Wharton, 35, a church member and team lead in Saturday's ramp project, is a building contractor by trade and does construction every day.
"Construction is what I know and what I do best," Wharton said. "It's neat and very rewarding to do it as a ministry."
Wharton said he builds about six ramps per year through the church's outreach ministry.
Doug Gant, another church member, also helped with the ramp project.
"It feels great to know that you are helping somebody who wouldn't be able to get this done without your help," Gant said.
Throughout the day the team of volunteers did some other odds and ends outside the house, such as trimming bushes, pulling weeds and installing flood lights in the front and back of the house.
Cynthia was overwhelmed by the act of love and support.
"This takes my breath away, all these people giving up their Saturday to help someone like me and come and do anything and everything," Cynthia said. "It's unbelievable. They're not my family, but they're my 'church family.'"
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