Caring for the Aged

We first went to the Rest Home three years ago, and, of course, we fell in love with all the Grandfathers and Grandmothers who live there.

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We’ve been involved in several projects at the home. Buying seed for their garden and replacing a wall that collapsed one winter seem like great and noble tasks. I am sure the people really are thankful for those provisions. But, meeting the physical needs of people is only the beginning of what true love is. Love requires time, energy, and involvement in the lives of others.

We went yesterday to sing to and visit with these precious elderly people. People who were once strong and young, just like the 15 teenagers we took with us. Men and women who have a lifetime of wisdom to share, but no one to listen. Men and women who have given of themselves in the world and now are cast off because they have “nothing” more to give.

Did you ever think about the verse in Proverbs 20:29? “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.” How is aging an honor to anyone if the older you get, the less needed and wanted you are? One of my biggest struggles of community living overseas is that so often there are no Grandparents. Think about it, most of those on the field are between 25 and 55 years old. The young, the middle-aged, and the old have so much to contribute when they share together. I’m not speaking just in terms of a relationship for my children, but in terms of the wisdom and knowledge that a person brings to a given situation based on their life experiences and their spiritual growth.

As I watched the kids yesterday, I saw fear in some of their eyes. “I’ll just stand back here, I wouldn’t know what to say anyway.” “I feel uncomfortable around old and sick people.” “I don’t speak their language.” Excuses based on fear. Overcoming fear is a mountainous task. As I watched those kids step out and do something totally uncomfortable for them, excitement grew in my heart. I was witnessing 1 Jn. 4:18 in action. “. . .perfect love casts out fear. . .”

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I wonder how many times we have missed opportunities to be blessed or be a blessing just because of fear. Fear is powerful, but I am so thankful that our small group stepped out in faith and loved on all the Grandfathers and Grandmothers in that home. They held their hands, fed them bread, knelt beside them, and hugged them tightly. I saw the tears of joy running down those old, wrinkled faces just because someone loved them enough to visit.

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If I had to have a theme verse for the day, it would be 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.”

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