December 12th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
You won’t find homebound ministry specifically mentioned in the Bible. But you will find plenty of reasons to go visit the homebound.
We are called to go to people in need. Most homebound residents are unable to attend church services. We must go to them. John 3:16 tells us that God came to us in our world through His Son, Jesus Christ. Also, the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son are all stories about God’s love moving toward those who need it most. We are called to go into the world of the homebound residents because of the great need there.
We are called to love people in need. God especially loves and cares for the sick, suffering and homeless. This was reflected in much of Jesus’ ministry. He visited and healed the sick and cared for people whom others shunned and avoided. (Mark 1:29-34; 3:1-6; Matt. 9:27-31)
We are called specifically to care for the widowed. Many homebound are widowed, and the Bible is full of references leading us to minister to these persons. Paul gave instructions to Timothy about the responsibilities of Christians to widows in 1 Timothy 5:3-16.
What is Homebound Ministry about? There are opportunities all around us. Homebound people desire to be discovered. Homebound persons want recognition as people. Homebound people need individual attention. Homebound people reach out for spiritual ministry.
Homebound ministry is accomplished through Bible study that meets spiritual needs, concerned outreach and active witnessing to the unsaved, a caring ministry for members and prospects and an active participation in the total fellowship and work of the church. (Matthew 28:40).
Homebound workers should be church members who consider the homebound person as someone of worth who needs a Bible teaching ministry. They are people who are willing to devote time on a regular basis to minister to the needs of the homebound. They are people with a desire to assist the homebound so they remain as independent as possible, encouraging them to do for themselves.
Homebound workers are people who listen with empathy and understanding and are optimistic with positive and constructive attitudes. Homebound workers should remember that commitment develops trust; trust is enhanced by touch and emphasizes quality instead of quantity in their ministry.
Through our homebound ministry at First Baptist Church in Allen, I have seen professions of faith, joy and smiles on people’s faces as we visit, other age-related ministries involved such as our children and student ministries and have made sure that each of our homebound persons has had an opportunity to make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The latter is one of the true blessings from visiting the homebound as one sits and listens to their walk with Christ through their many years of happiness and their times of despair.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. James Williams when I attended his class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Just because there is gray in the hair does not mean that there is a fire in the heart.” As we ministry to the homebound, we must never “assume” their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Is God calling you into homebound ministry? Ask God to lead you as your search for one place to begin. Then, step out on faith. I know that you will be blessed as you share God’s love.
By James Craver, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Allen, Texas.