December 30th, 2011 at 5:00 am
When you feel lonely, discouraged or forgotten by the world, what brings cheer to your heart? A call from a dear friend? A lunch date with a family member? An encouraging note dropped in your mailbox?
We all have special ways someone has encouraged us and helped us know we are not forgotten. This month, we have been talking about ways others have ministered to the Forgotten Ones, the elderly and homebound among us, helping them know they are valued and appreciated.
Before we finish up our focus the focus on the Forgotten Ones, we wanted to leave you with a few tips for taking a look at your world, connecting to the elderly and letting them know they are cared for, appreciated and loved by the Lord.
1. Become informed. Learn what life is like for the elderly in your community and their families. You can do this through personal experience like spending time with them and asking them questions about their life, or you can do a little research on your own. The following websites are a great place to start:
- National Institute on Aging
- Senior Journal
- So Far Away (info on long-distance care giving)
- Feeding America (facts on senior hunger)
- Amy Hanson (a gerontologist and author)
2. Jump into ministry! You can’t begin to make a difference if you aren’t connected to people. If God is tugging on your heart to get involved with ministering to the elderly, then start right now. Start where you are at with something little or something big, but get involved! God can take your desire to help and use it in might, great ways!
3. Be creative with your ministry. Take a look at the types of senior ministry going on in your community. You can find out much about ways to help the homebound and elderly through Meals on Wheels, home health agencies, church homebound lists, adult daycares or senior centers. Let these agencies know you are interested in ministering to the elderly and they can give you ideas for helping.
If you and your church need ideas for ministry, Texas Baptists can help. We have a senior adult ministry specialist, Keith Lowry, who is ready to help you start up a ministry to older adults in your community or to give you a few ideas to take the ministry you already have to the next level. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Give the elderly the value. The elderly and homebound have spent their entire lives to the point of being homebound helping others, leading their families and being productive members of society. Now that they are homebound, the desire to be helpful hasn’t stopped. They desire to have purpose and to contribute to society just like anyone else.
You can help with this. Join them once a week and be prayer warriors together. Take the church prayer list or the needs of a missionary you have adopted and go before the Father with the requests. But make sure you let them know how they are making a difference. As you learn of answered prayer requests, make sure that information gets back to them.
If the homebound are still able, do something together for someone else. This could mean backing cookies for someone in need, crocheting blankets for the local crisis pregnancy center or women’s shelter, adopting a service man or women and sending encouraging notes regularly. The ideas and ways to help are endless.
5. Don’t forget the caregivers. Though much of ministry to the elderly should be focused on the needs of the elderly and homebound, there is another group that is closely related and deserves love and attention too – the caregivers. Caregivers may be a spouse, children, grandchildren or nursing home/assisted living staff members.
They work very hard to take care of the needs of the elderly, and they need love and encouragement to continue on with the ways they are serving. Show them you care by giving them an afternoon off while you go sit with their homebound family member. Write them a note of encouragement. Drop by their home with a favorite coffee drink or sweet treat to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask them about the best way to encourage them and bring them help. Then be willing to do that very thing mentioned.
More than anything, the elderly and homebound just need to know they have a friend, that they have someone who will watch out for them and not take advantage of them.
Thanks for journeying with us this month as we’ve looked at ways to bless the elderly in our communities and share the hope of Christ with them in ways that will connect with their hearts. May God give you amble opportunity to put His love into action with the Forgotten Ones among you.
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