I want to thank Jason Lewis for contributing this piece reflecting his personal experiences in caring for his mom. As a volunteer chaplain at a nursing facility for over 25 years I am delighted to be joined by someone else who does what they can, where they are to serve those in that vulnerable chapter […]
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22 ESV
Even though here in the North East we have had some April snows this year it is certain that warmer days are ahead soon. With our Easter nursing home program in the rear view mirror now is a great time to begin planning a Summer visit. Summer is a great time to bring in young people because they are off from school. There are still things like family vacations, trips to the park and sports to compete for their time but this is a good opportunity to bring in volunteers who couldn’t be a part of our Christmas or Easter presentations.
If you are wondering what to do here are a few ideas.
Focus on July 4th – Have kids tell what they are thank God for in our country
Mix in songs like God Bless America, America the Beautiful and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. This usually gets our residents singing along with us! I also open up the program for the young people to sing a few of their own favorite worship songs together. Even though the seniors may not know these they are blessed just to see the excitement and joy of youth praising God. As we always do don’t forget to allow time for visiting afterwards. The last few years one young lady has been delighted to bake cookies to hand out. We just check with the staff before giving out food to make sure of what is allowed for individual residents. Another young person is getting credit towards acceptance into the National Honor Society for her work visiting seniors. Have any ideas of your own? Let us know! Have a blessed week in Christ.
He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, Luke 24:6
Awesome is the best word I could use to describe the Easter program this year at Allied Nursing Home. Every one of our young people gave it their best. The residents were deeply moved and there were plenty of tears mixed in with their smiles. I am thankful for the small but dedicated staff who transported 30 people or so down to the dining room and then back up to the various floors. But this post is not about how we did; as much as it is an encouragement to you that nursing home outreach is both a blessing and is very do-able in your own community.
For those of you thinking about beginning or extending a nursing home outreach here are three thoughts – Planning – Prayer -Preparation
Planning is easy to do but is most often overlooked. Maybe the importance of planning in ministry is under estimated because it just doesn’t seem very spiritual. But looking ahead at your calendar, asking people in advance if they would be willing to help and checking what resources your group will give you a clear outline of the challenges ahead.
I confess that Prayer is something I often forget. Oh yes I do pray at home but I am ashamed of how often I rush in with my plans and personal energy forgetting that only prayer binds us together with God and one another. This year I started off the same way but as our first practice time began chaotically I realized how desperately we needed to pray. If we wanted to be able to share the Easter message of Hope in a way that would touch people’s hearts only God could make that happen. No amount of planning substitutes for the blessing of God. When we linked hands in prayer as an expression of our dependence on Jesus Christ He stepped into our circle and began bringing all the pieces together for His glory.
We can plan and even pray but without preparation we will not be doing our part of what God has for us to do. Preparation is just another word for commitment. Preparation is commitment played out over a period of time. We prepared for seven weeks for our 25 minute program. Sometimes only half of our people showed up. I had to learn to be more flexible with and ask what the youth thought about the various parts of our program. But through it all everything, our young people stuck with it, pulled together and did their best. When the night came for telling again the story of Easter they were ready. The song we opened with talks about the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus. It is just 7 days vefore the cross and Jesus tells the crowd it is in preparation for his burial. As the nursing home residents expectantly filled up the dining room that night those opening words perfectly mirrored my own feeling.
“As the people filled the hall Mary trembled at the door
Holding tight the fragile jar that held her treasure store”
We were holding our treasure store of the love of Jesus Christ in the fragile jars of our lives hoping to have the chance to once again pour it out on His feet. I would invite you to be ready to pour out your own treasure stores of God’s love in nursing homes in your own city or small town. The opportunity that lies outside of our church doors is to reach the weakest and most vulnerable of our communities with the love of Jesus Christ. For more information about nursing home ministry you can view any of the 20 or more videos on my Youtube channel – PastorPete51 – or contact me directly by email @ revpete51@gmail,com God bless you as we work together to reach the Least of these!
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did itto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:40
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand. Psalm 139:17-18
Since the birth of Laura in our church family 6 months ago I have been getting a crash course in awareness of downs syndrome children and families. These moms who collaborated to make the video 50 Mums and 50 Kids, come together for this interview to give us all a sneak peek behind the scenes and help us to get in touch with the reality of both the blessings as well as the challenges presented by having a child with downs syndrome in their families.
What we experience with these mothers is a no strings attached love that reflects God’s love for all of us. He values us in a way that is not related to what others think of us or what he can get out of us. These mothers share that the greatest challenge is to simply communicate that we don’t need to be afraid. Together we can tear down the walls that built on fear and the lack of personal experience.
As a long time chaplain at both nursing homes and an assisted living home that includes some residents with downs as well as various, emotional and physical disabilities one thing that I share with these Mums is the frustration in how little people outside our community seem to understand about us. These heart warming videos help to break down barriers as we see the real beauty of these kids and their mothers together. Pray for us that God would open new doors in long term care ministry as well. Have a blessed week!