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Being a friend to the lonely

December 16th, 2011 at 6:03 am

For three years on each Friday, Judy* went to visit a sweet, homebound lady who was in her early 90s. Sometimes the two women would have lunch together. Other times Judy would just visit with the lady or take on a few errands she needed to run.

More than anything, Judy was just a friend to a lady who felt alone and sometimes forgotten.

“It’s so our homebound members do not feel forgotten,” Judy said. “I have a heart for the elderly. I enjoy being around them and I consider them my mentors. I enjoy having them as friends.”

Judy is the volunteer director for the Yes, Lord! Aging Team at First Baptist Church in San Antonio. Back in 2004, the church set up a series of “Yes, Lord!” ministries where church members could get involved in the functions of the church and with reaching out to the community.

Judy spoke with the then Aging Team organizers and was ready to jump because of her love fore senior adults. She was pared with the lady in her 90s, and for three years, Judy faithfully went to check up this lady, stating that she was always blessed by their time together. Often, they would visit and end their time as prayer partners praying through the church prayer list.

In 2007, the then team directors had to step down from their position for some health reasons, and the Lord had further plans for Judy.

“The Lord just laid on my heart that we needed to continue this ministry. The Lord just called me to be a team leader,” Judy said.

Currently, Judy and one other co-leader help coordinate 34 members of the Aging Team who minister to about 95 homebound church members, age 75 or above.

The ministries of the team are quite diverse. Some love to send the homebound members hand-written notes each month while others enjoy visiting a specific elderly member weekly or bi-weekly or giving them a phone call.

When needed some of the team members will take the elderly members to the doctor or assist with household needs. No matter what the task at hand, the team members are focused on one goal – helping these homebound members know they have a friend and are not forgotten.

“The whole purpose is that we don’t want these saints, these people who have spent their lives in the church, we don’t want them to feel forgotten,” Judy said.

When needed, volunteers also will assist the caregivers of the homebound. They often will sit with the homebound member for a few hours so that the caregiver can go get groceries, go to a hair appointment or do something else that may give them a little needed rest.

Most of the volunteer team members are retired and have ample time to visit the homebound members, but some are families who involve their children in the ministry.

Though much of the ministry is about being a friend, Judy notes that there does need to be a level of commitment. Ministry volunteers need to understand that a way to encourage the homebound and to help them in their situation is to show them consistency, she said.

“To have a friend, you have to be a friend. You have to be there,” Judy said.

As Judy has seen volunteers show the homebound members love and friendship, she has seen so much joy present in the lives of both the helper and the homebound member.

When they see someone cares, “the reaction is joyous on the part of the senior,” Judy said. “They are so happy and it just brings joy into their lives for us to come visit. One of the things we always do is pray with them. We never leave if we don’t have a prayer with them and for them.

 

*Judy asked that her last name not be posted in the article.

 

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