Often we talk at church about assistance to our fellow members who are in some need. All well and good, and I must say, my family has benefited from such at crucial times, such as with a new born in the house. It is very welcome. It also comes in handy for incidental support: I'm happy to both give and receive.
But there are limits, I've noticed, and that's possibly understandable, given circumstances. I noticed this when I was in a youth group many moons ago. A single mother in our church had three young children. My mother helped look after them during school holidays, which was a bind for my brother and I as we didn't like the children; nevertheless, mum ploughed on.
Later the woman suffered a so-called 'nervous breakdown' and was hospitalised. The youth group went to her home to clean it. And cleaning it needed! It was good to do; but she needed such help in the long term. We couldn't do that: it was a one-off, as many church efforts are; but happily there are public services that can step in.
I would have loved someone to accompany me to hospital with one of my children recently: at 11:30 at night. I didn't think that would work...so the nice ambulance service accompanied me instead!
Compare that to Tim Winton's experience, as I understand it. His father had been injured in a work accident, and needed help to bathe. A local church member came every day to so help. Not in the short term, but in the long term. That's commitment to the needs of another, not the token that my youth group experience represented. Its a gutsy and sacrificial 'I'm here for you'. I don't know that many Christians would extend to that type of commitment...and I have to ask myself if I would.