I am recently retired and had been praying about where the Lord wanted me to serve Him and His people. I prayed and prayed asking the Lord where He wanted me. I made a list of places in my town that I could serve, and was considering several ministries on my list.
I had never been in nursing home ministry, but there was a couple at my church who do visitation at a nursing home. They sent email invitations to some church members, asking if we wanted to go along with them. One Sunday during communion, I heard the Lord ask me, “Are you humble enough to go to a nursing home?”
So I thought, “I’d better not put it off or I won’t go.”
When I got home, I googled nursing home ministry, found the God Cares website and watched some of the free videos.
I went with the couple from my church to the nursing home and sat down among several residents. The hardest part was not knowing what to say, but I remembered from the videos that I could just tell them my name and ask theirs; I could tell them where I’m from, and ask them, and that would get the conversation started.
It was obvious that the residents were hungry for conversation. By the time we were ready to leave, my heart was snagged. Oh, the smiles and appreciation I received from these lonely residents!
Back home, I watched everything on the God Cares website. I loved every single one of the free videos. They fueled my heart and encouraged me. I ordered the ministry book and the online training course and got the first chapter of the Bible study curriculum.
I started calling homes to see who wanted volunteers to hold a service. The first home I called said they used to have a volunteer, but he had to leave for health reasons and the residents really want “Sunday School” which is what the former volunteer called his time with them. The Activity Director was very welcoming and said, “I can’t tell you how long I’ve been praying for this.”
The week before I was scheduled to start, my church bought socks for the residents and we went from room to room handing them out, and telling them what church we were from and about our Sunday School at 2:00 the following Sunday.
One woman asked if we would find her a pastor so she could be baptized. I visited her twice beforehand and asked about her faith and got her testimony. I told her step-by-step what we would be doing at her baptism so she would be comfortable. She was bedridden, so after the service we went to her room. Our pastor and his 3 kids were there and some others from our church, so we had 11 people at her baptism. I brought some towels and a measuring cup and our pastor baptized her right there in her bed. Then we all sang Amazing Grace.
You just never know where conversations will take you. On one of my visits, a woman got out her Bible which was clearly well-used and she asked me, “How do I know if I’m really saved? What do I tell God when I get to heaven?” I consoled her with scripture, and told her I would bring more verses next week. A day later, I was listening to a sermon and the minister talked about how to have assurance of salvation! And I told God, “Everything You know I need you are giving me!!
I had heard that between 60 and 80% of residents don’t get visitors, so I asked at the home, and they told me that about 100 out of their 135 residents usually don’t receive visitors
These people living a forgotten life behind closed doors have become dear to me. I want to see love in their eyes. I want the nursing home to be a happy place because Jesus is there. May every nursing home be adopted by a church. May there be so many churches wanting to adopt a nursing home that we run out of nursing homes to adopt!
There were three scripture verses that touched my heart as I was looking for nursing home ministry information online.
James 4:17 helped me to make the decision to teach Sunday School after the Activities Director said no church was ministering in this way and the residents always request it. It says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
The other two verses motivate me to visit residents one on one. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Psalms 71:9 says “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” ~ Cathy Englehardt