From time to time we will share a story
with you that captures the spirit of the Ministry to
the Aged Pastoral Care Team.
Some time ago I was serving as chaplain in an area dedicated to the care of
persons with Alzheimer’s disease when I met Allen. He was an older man, I would
say 80 – 85 years old. He was an attractive man, tall with excellent posture.
Whenever I saw him, he was wearing a suit and tie. He was a warm, caring man.
His elegance commanded the attention of those who met him.
I was struck by the way Allen welcomed me into the group’s area.
With a warm handshake, he would look me in the eye and say
something like, “It’s nice to see you, John, I’m glad you
are here. How are you doing? I hope all is well with you.”
He always had a gracious welcome for me; a welcome that let me know he
really was glad to see me. I wondered at times if his warm
welcome signified more than his simply being a caring
Then, in conversation with a member of the staff, I learned that
Allen had been a pastor. As soon as I heard that, I wondered
if with all those gracious greetings he had been welcoming
me to his church. I bet he was.
I began responding to his greetings as though I were being welcomed
to church. “Thank you Allen. It is nice to be here. I always
get a lot from the group as we worship, singing those great
old hymns and praying together.”
My experiences with Allen led me to believe that while there
are significant differences between those of us who have
Alzheimer’s disease and those of us who don’t, at our core,
we are very much alike. We all yearn to be affirmed as
persons of value. We all have value because the God who made
us says we are valuable. We affirm the value of people by
accepting them as they are and by seeking to understand
their perception of reality. In doing so, we share with them
our love and the love of God.
John Payne, Chaplain
Before I walk into a care
center I often pray: “Father, make me a channel of your
encouragement and comfort.” I believe He’s answering that
prayer. As I try to keep my mind on the words of a song I am
leading, and play the right guitar chords, another part of
me is aware of people’s responses.
Music often affects residents. Those who are usually passive are often stirred
by the music and tears well up in their eyes. When I share a
Scripture verse or story another person smiles and nods.
When I spend time visiting personally with residents I may
see visible relief in the face of someone who needs to be
reminded that God loves him or her.
I am grateful to Ministry
to the Aged for the support that enables me to devote time
to ministry in care centers. It may seem like such a simple
thing… singing, sharing Scripture, spending time listening
and praying with people. But God uses these things to
encourage and comfort people – including me.
Chaplain Tom Warner