This is the question we have been asking those who are ministering in this mission field.
During our PowerNight banquet, our friend, Yvonne Hobson, touched us all with her words and heart of love. She shared:
Romans 12:2 says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And I can tell you that this particular mission field is a transforming experience. It changes your way of thinking. Frankly, it has changed my whole perspective on life.
When you go into these care homes on a regular basis, you witness so many variations of sickness, deformity, paralysis, and dementia. And when you’re exposed to this on a regular basis, you become keenly aware that it is a monumental blessing when you have your health, strength and mental faculties intact. It has taught me what is important in life. I am much less prone to complain, and I do not sweat the small stuff.
I’ve also been greatly impacted by the residents, themselves. They come from all walks of life. Some of them had been high functioning individuals, but all of them have had something they contributed either to society or family. And even though their physical and/or mental capacity has been greatly diminished, the essence, the very essence of that person, is still in there. And I find that if I spend some time with them, they are able to convey their essence to me by words, gestures or even through song.
And I am so deeply moved when I realize that I am connecting with their souls. So many times, the soul is all that’s left in that shell that we call a body. So, it is a spirit-to-spirit connection. And from that, I have come to view MY aging process with a renewed mind. I am working on perfecting the ESSENCE of me to be conformed with the essence of Jesus Christ. So that, should I ever reach a diminished capacity, my SOUL will be able to convey JESUS to everybody I come in contact with.
Rev. Yvonne is an advisor to our board of directors.
One of our board members, Pastor Dennis Barta of Grace Church, was our emcee at PowerNight. He shared:
I’ve learned that I, too, can grow old gracefully.
Watching people lose freedoms and abilities – and doing it with grace and peace — inspires me to do the same. And now that I’ve passed my Medicare birthday, changes are beginning to become my own reality. I have learned the value of living life God’s way and on his terms. Seeing others going the distance with Jesus has been a huge encouragement to me. These folks who had been followers for decades have a totally different outlook than those around them. Like Paul, they would say “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”
Conversely, I’ve been reminded of the emptiness of a life not lived for God – the regrets, the negative outlook – even bitterness, the fear of what’s next. It makes me all the more thankful that I know Jesus AND can offer His peace and hope to others.
I have also seen that the losses don’t just come with age; they may come from a disease or illness. Some of the people we minister to are barely into their 50s, but there they, too, are singing the praises of Jesus and encouraging others! Paul counted everything a loss — well worth giving up, if only he could know Christ more and more. I want to follow that example.