The change in name of this web-site does not mean we are going to stop sharing about nursing home ministry but rather that there will now be included different types of similar outreach to. Right now the entire traditional nursing home as an institution is undergoing change at an amazing pace. Each year new places are opening offering specialized facilities such as assisted living; memory care along with skilled nursing. While some assisted living communities are beginning to resemble 5 star resorts while others are far more plain and cater to those with mental and physical disabilities.
What these changes mean for those of us who are volunteering is that we need to adapt and prepare for the new and more complex world of long term care. Someone once told me that during times of change it is important to know that what is happening is not what is going on. What we need to do is to see what is really going on!
Decades ago the emergence of large skilled nursing institutions at first created barriers between the church and the people behind those walls which often left residents feeling isolated and alone. But when we changed our approach to reaching our neighbors behind inside those places we discovered that inside those facilities were new and unique opportunities to serve.
New Beginnings is an effort to shed light on the latest developments in long term care along with ways to continue sharing the love of God in those new settings. Today I’ll simply begin with the term “Nursing home ministry” and offer a suggestion that we instead begin to call our various outreaches “Care ministry”.
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. John 13:14 ESV
Our work is “Care Ministry” because no matter where we serve or what title we hold our purpose as God’s servants is to show His love (care) by washing feet. Foot washing means meeting ordinary needs for the extraordinary reason of the love of Jesus Christ. When we meet the needs of others it won’t really matter where we meet them. Whether that location looks like a resort or a last resort; the people who live there need to know that God still remembers and cares about them. He is just as concerned with the rich as the poor. God is equally burdened for the intelligent as for the mentally challenged. Not a single sparrow escapes his attention. When we show we care in a thousand different ways we are in fact serving in “Care Ministry”.
If you have stories of your own as a volunteer in any area of care ministry I invite you over the next weeks and months to share your own stories here. If we would connect with one another; together we can all learn how to better wash the feet of people in our own city, town or village.
This is national Nursing Home Week and I wanted to take this day to remember the many staff members who have sacrificially helped out and have given so much to make our outreach possible. If you are one of these people I want to say a big heart felt THANK YOU and God Bless!!!
Thank you for bringing residents to our meetings every week, year after year.
Thank you for taking time to bring us to the rooms of people needing an extra prayer
Thank you for encouraging the residents to sing and by singing along
Thank you for special cards and gifts that made us feel appreciated and loved
Thank you for your gentle and sometimes funny way of dealing with unlovely situations
Thank you for (almost) never complaining
Thank you for the flexibility of allowing us to meet out in the garden when the dining room was being remodeled!
Thank you for reminding us of the residents’ birthdays so we can make them feel special
Thank you most of all for being co-laborers with us in the work of taking care of even the least of these in the world’s eyes because every one of them matters to Jesus Christ!
Though there were no institutions like nursing homes in the days of Jesus, there definitely were the same kinds of people who lived in them. That society had no social security, government health insurance or orphanages. The poor and helpless either were cared for by family or were thrown out to beg on the street. In the Bible we read a story of one woman we will call Rosemary, who teetered on the edge of destitution. Rosemary was a widow being supported by her only son. Then the worst happened. That son was struck down by some disease or accident. The morning as she followed his coffin on the way out of the city she wept not only for the loss of her child, but also because her future seemed dark and foreboding. Then Jesus came!
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…Luke 7:11-12 ESV
It is interesting that village of Nain was only about 12 miles from Nazareth; but this is the only time we know of that Jesus visits there. In the same way that Nain was close to Jesus’ home, nursing homes are close by every one of us. We drive by them every day without realizing that inside those walls are people who are just like Rosemary. While some receive regular visits from loved ones, most are simply forgotten.
Easter is now past and many of us are planning where we will go or what we will do on our summer vacations. Why couldn’t we also plan to make a shorter trip and begin to visit people like Rosemary who live near us and bring them the message that God has not forgotten?