Having ministered to nursing home residents on different occasions, volunteering to help the older generation at a U.S. Housing and Urban Development housing unit and those at a facility for the homeless, plus experiencing what goes on at these facilities, and at various types of retirement complexes, I am convinced that no segment of our society is as needy of emotional and spiritual food as those who live in these places.
There are those who, when they reach their 80’s and beyond, believe that life for them has run its course, and that they are no longer useful. Many in the world, and it seems as though one of the candidates running for president, also has this mindset. But there is a plan for our lives no matter how old we are.
I believe I heard a voice tell me years ago that, “They may be old, but these souls are precious in My sight.”
And by the way, I believe this generation of our elderly, living longer than ever before in America, came about as a fulfillment of a promise: “Honor they father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land…” It also has been my wife’s and my pleasure to minister to folk that still know what it means to respect and honor their parents.
Everyone needs comfort and inspiration. We all need it no matter our age. My wife and I consider us blessed to be of help to those who show a need, while also showing love and caring for others. There are many hoping and waiting for the good news that somebody cares and loves them. And it is very important and rewarding to find a way to demonstrate this love in a personal way.
I challenge you to search the scriptures and see to whom the Lord ministered. Time after time, it was the needy; never was it the mighty of this world. He looked for the poor, the lame, the blind, and in most cases, those whom society looked down on. Ministering to the elderly and needy is truly an opportunity to hold earth’s highest office — that of being a servant of the Lord.
To understand the need for love and caring and being ministered to in a special way, a person needs to know a little of what it is like to be disabled and needy —sometimes confined. My understanding and burden comes as a result of being a medic in the Army, a nurse for a period of years in nursing homes and of several years ministering in these facilities.
Most residents of the average nursing home have lost the things on Earth that are dearest to them — the things they have basically earned and worked for all their lives— their mate, their home, and in many cases their finances (or the control of them). They at one time were able to make all of their own decisions. Suddenly, and in many cases, it is only a short period of time, and all these decisions and choices are taken from them. They are told when to eat, what to eat, when to go to bed, when to get up, what to wear, etc. Some people adjust better than others, but it is a traumatic experience for most.
Most nursing home residents seem to be without choices, even though most of those working in nursing homes have the good of the resident at heart. They strive to provide a good physical program, and a social atmosphere that is as pleasant as possible under confined conditions or circumstances. However, even the finest of facilities, and the finest care cannot change the fact that the physical and social capabilities of nursing home residents have been altered drastically.
It seems that today, practically all resources of time and money spent on the elderly and confined is in the areas that are changing and passing away. I’m talking about medical needs. Also, the area that we can develop as long as we draw a breath, the spiritual and emotional, in many cases receives too little or no help.
I know there are people who could meet the challenge of this need and have a real desire to do so. Many though, thinking about it and having a desire to serve, have no practical outreach. The nursing home ministry is a ministry where you can be involved and very effective. I believe that more churches need to see the need and experience the joy of serving where there is no thought or possibility of earthly reward.
— Contact Allen Stark at email@example.com.