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Caring for the Forgotten Generation

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2022 5:00 am

Caring for the Forgotten Generation

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 25, 2022 5:00 am

Chaplain Bill Goodrich of God Cares Ministry describes the vibrant opportunity to befriend and share Christ with the elderly in your community. He shares his heart for this forgotten generation of precious people who deserve our love and attention.


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In those early years, when I came to know the Lord, he and his family were so against it that they actually advised him to divorce me. Joy spent many lonely years trying to trust God and love her husband well. Thankfully, she found the support and encouragement she needed. I think that God just really used Focus on the Family and your guys' ministry to grow me and prepare me and guide my heart to live out in front of my husband what it means to follow Christ. And the best news of all is that Joy's husband also became a follower of Jesus.

I'm Jim Daly. When we work together, we can strengthen more marriages like Joy's and give families hope. Please call 800 the letter A in the word family or donate at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash hope and your gift will be doubled. We have seen, based on the principles that we teach for nursing home ministry, we have seen about 85% of the residents take Jesus' hand for salvation and for strength to get them through their days. There's a mission field near you with lonely, often forgotten people, and they're living out their final days in a nursing home or a senior center.

They're longing to be loved. This is Focus on the Family with your host Focus President and author Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller, and today we're talking about sharing the love of Christ with the elderly. And Jim, this is something every one of us can pray about and actually do something about.

Oh, we can, John. It's so important that we remember the value of every human life. We talk about that a lot here at Focus on the Family. It's been part of our core principle for 45 years. And we concentrate heavily on the preborn. And we have great programs like Option Ultrasound. We've saved, together with the donors that have helped us, half a million babies almost. And we're going to hit that number, I think, soon.

And yet there is the other end of the continuum. Those that are aging, those that are in special care homes around the country. And I'm so grateful. Patty Watkins was my assistant. And she, every year, started to organize people to take little gifts to these nursing homes around Colorado Springs.

And she was instrumental in getting Jean and I to get the boys involved. And we would take these gifts to these folks who were, for the most part, just in their rooms. And some of their own children were not visiting in them very often.

So it kind of broke our heart when we had a first-time experience. So today, we want to talk about that. And there's something like 1.3 million seniors in nursing homes around the country. That right there, if you could reach 1.3 million people, would you do it as a believer, talking to others about Jesus and what He's done for you?

I think it's a great harvest field, if we think of it that way. Indeed it is. And in the studio with us to share some passion about this topic is Chaplain Bill Goodrich, the founder and president of God Cares Ministry, which is based in Ohio. Bill has been involved in nursing home ministry for several decades now. And has written a book called, Nursing Home Ministry, Where Hidden Treasures Are Found. And we have copies of that book here at Focus on the Family. Stop by the website. The link is in the show notes.

Or call 800, the letter A in the word family. Bill, welcome to Focus. Thank you. It's an honor to be here.

Yeah, it's good to have you. And what a great area of ministry. You know, so often we think of the elderly as maybe, you know, they live their lives and we think of them of having family that cares for them until the very end. And that's true of many.

And that's a good thing. But so often, like I said, 1.3 million reside in nursing homes. I think there's another million people who are in assisted living facilities. So that's a lot. 2.3 million people. And there's something like 35% of the elderly who will be in one form or the other of that kind of living environment.

And I guess the right place to start is so often those older folks are neglected. So what got you into this ministry? Well, Jim, it's kind of funny because I had no idea how I got into this. That's usually the Lord then, right?

Yes. I have a mechanical carpentry kind of a background. And so I knew that that's what I would be doing for the church, maybe building buildings and stuff like that. But somehow I ended up, I actually heard an interview on a radio program. They were looking for volunteers at a nursing home. And so I went interviewed and they said, would you bring people out for the church service on Sunday afternoon? We have five pastors that rotate through the months and bring them out, let them sit through the service. And then when they're done, take them back to their rooms. And so that's what I did. But after about a month or two of this, watching the hunger inside their hearts for what Jesus offers, I began to pray and ask God, what can be done?

What can I do to help these people grow closer to Jesus? And that's how it began. You know, it's interesting because even our experience, you know, we kind of fell in that direction because my assistant Patty Watkins had said, hey, do you want to sign up to do this? And, you know, that'd be great to expose the kids to that.

Now, the reality is it's your experience will be all over the map. I remember one woman that we encountered, she was dressed to the hilt and she was sitting on the edge of her bed, mentally sound as could be. We walked in and she said, it's so good to see you.

Thank you for coming and visiting me. It was sweet. She was lucid. She had all her faculties. And what was so sad about her situation, she said her two sons had put her in this nursing home and that they rarely come to visit her anymore. That broke my heart because she was capable of so much. I mean, she was older, but she was all there. And I thought, man, my heart just broke for her that they're not even stopping by to visit her. And I just remember that experience because I felt like, wow, she needs people to stop in and say hi.

It's all she needed. Yes, about 80% of the residents receive less than one visit a month from family or friends. Yeah, that's really a tragedy. It's really heartbreaking.

So kind of like adopt a grandparent or adopt a parent, right? Yes. That's part of it. Now, I want to be honest because we had some, you know, kind of humorous but scary encounters too. I remember Troy had the bag.

We had a blanket and these gift bags and some other things that the person would receive. And so Troy was probably like five. And it wasn't smart. We were going through the halls and popping into different rooms and he went in by himself to this one room. And all of a sudden I heard this woman screaming, he took my wallet. He took my wallet. And she didn't have all her faculties. And of course, Troy came running out of the room like, daddy, I don't know what she's talking about.

I'm innocent. But we had to walk through that with him. And I thought it was a good experience. I mean, just to say, you know, when you get older, sometimes you don't see things clearly. Your mind isn't working quite right, et cetera. But that's part of what you encounter in doing that ministry as well. Even though a person's cognitive abilities are diminished, they still have a spirit. And they are still open to the things of God. Jesus said, the words I speak are spirit.

And so when we speak the word of God in a spirit of love, he reaches in and touches them in a way that is amazing. I'll tell you a story. I had a friend, her name was Ursula. And she used to come to our little Bible study. She was very quiet. But she enjoyed the service.

Because of HIPAA, they take away the ability for us to know what's going on with people when they move. So she was, one day she was just gone. And we couldn't find her. Physically?

Yeah, physically. She was just, she was not present in the home anymore. And so we didn't know where she was. Anyway, it was about a month or two later when I happened to be going down the hall and I saw her in a bed. It was like so exciting. And, you know, here's my friend, Ursula.

So I went in there. I knelt next to her bed and started just talking to her. Ursula, how are you? And she lost her ability to speak. And all she could do was gibber.

She could not put one whole word together. And she would gibber, gibber. But I could tell she was happy to see me. She knew who I was, at least in presence. And I said, Ursula, I have something so important to tell you.

Jesus loves you and so do I. And it was really interesting because her countenance changed and her gibberish talk became solemn, like something was wrong. I was telling her that Jesus loved her, but I think she was telling me something doesn't align with that in my life. And so I let her talk a little bit and I said, you know, Ursula, in this life there's so many things that don't make sense, so many things that are broken.

We can't understand them. But when you get to heaven, Jesus is going to make it all clear to you. And it's going to be all right.

It's going to all turn out for your good. And she looked at me and paused for a moment and she said, thank you. That was, and then she gibber, gibber, gibber.

Right, but just clearly said thank you. That is so beautiful. Like her clarity was there. It was a God moment. God allowed her to have that window.

Boom. Yes, it was beautiful. See, that's the beauty of engaging with those folks at that time. And, you know, I guess the reason I mentioned all that is it's just a wide variety of experience that you're going to encounter there, right? These are people in their 80s and 90s for the most part who, again, their families have placed them there for all kinds of reasons. Some get visits, some get very few visits, and that's what you end up encountering.

And you get all kinds of different mental capability and emotional capability in those visits as well. You also have a story. I think it was a Jewish man that you encountered.

Let's cover that territory, too, because that's a great story. We have a Bible study in a nursing home and one of the nurses came up to us and said, there's a gentleman down the hall that would like to talk to a minister. So I went down to talk to him and I said, I heard you'd like to talk to a minister. And he said, well, actually, I just would like to talk to somebody who's intelligent. And I laughed and I said, well, I don't know if I can help you with that, but I can help you with a minister. And as it turned out, he was a Jewish man and he had an interesting perspective of even the Jewish faith, but he started kind of drilling me with questions. And I said, look, Ed, I don't want to debate with you, I just want to come and be your friend and help you to understand the things about God. And he said, oh, no, no, I want you to do that also. Anyway, long of it short, he began to ask questions that were kind of tough ones about God and why is this and if Jesus came to give peace, why is there still war and things like that. And finally I said, you know, Ed, you are asking calculus questions.

You need to get the basics first. And he just couldn't hear what I said. And this was over a couple months of just visiting and he was very antagonistic, very sarcastic. But God, you know, our first and primary goal when we meet people in the nursing homes is to build caring friendships.

And as our friends are open, help them to take Jesus' hand so that he can lead them where he wants to take them. And so, you know, I just kind of endured his sarcasm in that. Long of it short, I began to realize that Ed was not hearing me.

And so I said, you know, Ed, there's something that's missing here. And Jesus told us that if we would open our heart to him and surrender, he would come in and then he would make sense of these things that I'm telling you. And so the next week I came in, I brought a little card with a prayer of surrender and salvation on it. And on the back of it there was a place that you can sign your name and on this date I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. So I gave that card to him and he looked at me and he goes, so this is the magic prayer, huh? If I say this, then I'm going to heaven. I said, Ed, if you say this prayer and you mean it from your heart, God will receive you into his kingdom.

Yeah, well said. And he said, he said, okay, and he set it down and he started talking about something else. Now the interesting part, God moved Ed into a different room that was right next to our Bible study. So even though he couldn't get out of bed, he could hear everything that was going on. So he would ask us for the scripture handouts that we had that had the Bible verses and a prayer on the bottom.

And he would follow along for the Bible study. It was funny, one time I came into his room after the service and he looked at the paper and he says, well, I want you to know, there were five verses on it. He says, I want you to know I agree with everything on here except for the first four. And I says, well, that's great. He kind of sounded cantankerous.

Yes, he was rough. And I says, well, that's great. You agree with one of them. Let's talk about that. And so about another month, it was several months here, but about another month later, I came into his room and he says, here, look at that card. And I picked it up and I'm just kind of like looking at the prayer and he goes, well, turn it over.

And I turn it over, his name and date was on it. Wow. And I said, did you mean this from your heart, Ed? He said, yeah. And I shook his hand and I said, welcome to God's kingdom. Wow. Shortly after that, he started wearing a cross, which is a pretty big thing for a Jewish person.

Absolutely. And shortly after that, I mean, during the months that followed, he was a lot more open. Well, I just want to conclude by saying several months later, I came to, I really had an inkling to visit him on a Saturday. Our Bible studies on a Tuesday, but I just came out, really felt strong to go visit him. When I got to his room, he says, oh, it's not Tuesday.

What are you doing here? I said, Ed, I just felt strong that God wanted us to visit with each other today. He was so touched by that. And so we just began to talk and share. He had some scriptures that he wanted me to read for him and we prayed. It was such a great time, just a real great bonding. About two weeks later, I came to visit again and he was gone.

He was in heaven. Yeah. Wow. You think of that.

That should convince many people to say, okay, I'm going to try to get engaged. Let me just get the capsulation before we take a little break and John tells people how to get ahold of us and perhaps links to your ministry as well at the website, but it's God Cares Ministry. What are your main goals? What are you trying to achieve with God Cares Ministry?

Well, what we do is we train, equip, and support Christian volunteers who will go into the senior care homes to share the love and the word of Jesus, helping residents take his hand to find hope and peace. It's ultimately what our mission statement is. And that story does encapsulate that. Yeah. And so I would say this too. Our work, we don't go in to evangelize per se. As I said earlier, our first and primary goal is to develop caring friendships. Yeah. And through that friendship to help the resident take Jesus' hand.

We use a little bit different language in this environment because it's not a Christian environment necessarily in a nursing home. Right. And so we have to be wise on how we come in there and the caring friendships and helping people take Jesus' hand is well received even among the administration.

Yeah. Bill, let me ask you about the pandemic, COVID, and the impact nursing homes were in the news quite a bit, typically for not good reasons where certain states were allowing infected people to go into the nursing homes, come out of the hospital. It's still being debated I think now in terms of the wisdom of that. But describe kind of that bump for your ministry and how your hands got tied, right? I mean, you couldn't go into the buildings, I'm sure. Yeah, we had a couple thousand volunteers that were shut out of the care homes.

And it was very difficult. And we got before the Lord and we prayed, how do we get the word of God to these residents anyway? And now there were a lot of window visits, a lot of Skype and Zoom visits, which was great, but it was extremely minimized. Yeah, not a lot of human interaction. I mean, the poor patients or the poor residents couldn't even meet with their family members, right?

That's correct. Jean and I didn't have a family member in that situation, but we knew lots of friends where their parents were in that. It was heart-wrenching. It was devastating for the residents and even the staff too who was caring for them. The loneliness was so thick and so difficult for the residents. You know, you can't isolate human beings without causing major struggle. Let me insert something, an observation there.

You know, the Lord in Genesis, I mean, He creates us for relationship. And when we don't get it, we suffer. Yeah, the residents became anxious, fearful, hopeless, and their companion was the television. And that did not help at all.

It accelerated those problems. And even now when we're allowed to go back in, we're finding that they're ambivalent. We have to kind of restart.

A lot of the residents passed away because it was over a two-year period that we were not able to be in there. So we're starting over really, re-establishing relationships and, you know, pointing them to the Lord. And it just takes a little bit of time to get things started again. But you can see the difference. Yes, absolutely.

What a difference a relationship makes. One of the things we were able to do, Jim, was to create these scripture handouts. They're giant print scriptures with a prayer on the bottom and a word puzzle on the back. And we put them on our website. And the activity directors of the home were able to download these and pass them out to the residents. So the Word of God was still able to reach many people. In fact, we reached more through that than we did in 25 years prior to the pandemic. Because you had the directors of the activities actually distributing to all residents, right? That's correct. And so we had about 5,000 activity directors distributing these to residents and some of the staff in the home. So we know that the Word of God was being spread throughout this pandemic.

Yeah. You know, one of the great concerns we have at Focus is that our culture is devaluing life. We have a number of states that have legalized, assisted suicide. It's kind of spreading around the world, really. What are you seeing broadly with the culture beyond the church? And how do we stand for life at this end of the spectrum? In our fast-paced society, we see the value of people by what they can give or do for us.

And it appears that the residents can't do anything for us. But as the book is called, Nursing Home Ministry Where Hidden Treasures Are Found, once you get past the skin and the awkwardness of that environment, you find out that the treasures are still inside those bodies. And whatever we give, if we give love, if we give kindness, if we give truth, Jesus has said, Give and it will be given to you, a good measure pressed down, shaken together and overflowing.

That's what happens. We find this amazing return. So many of our volunteers say, I go to give, but I get so much more than I can ever give to them. And it's not like we go there to get something. We go to give, and the principle that Jesus said in Luke 6 comes back to us.

Yeah, it's so true and so good. Demographers are saying that basically baby boomers will outnumber in a few short years the younger generation. And it's unfortunate because you look at the abortion deaths, 63, 64 million, it's taken out, you know, that younger generation.

So we have a top-heavy generation. How do we encourage people to get that right, to move into these people, the elderly people's lives, and do what you're doing to talk to them about the Lord? I mean, if you're in your 30s and 40s, maybe 50s, I got a lot going on, Bill. I mean, really, you want me to go on a Saturday or on a Tuesday and talk to some elderly people? Well, just as you said, Jim, you took your family there, and I think it's a great family ministry.

It is. It is a great way to help our young children recognize the value of people. It's so important that we see them beyond the outside appearance, but that they're still people, and they're the people that built our churches and our highways and our structures that allow us to have the benefits that we have today in this world, you know? And here's the thing that I see, that when people are devalued, that's when you can say it's not important to keep them. The younger generation is going to have such a strain to take care of the older generation because of the top-heavy point that you made. And when that happens, the consensus is going to be, let's get rid of them.

They have found that the last two years of a person's life, they spend more money on health care in that last two years, than they do all their previous life. And so to save resource, they're going to be looking at that. It's God's will that we love them, and that's why Jesus said that religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to look after widows and orphans in their distress. We don't consider them orphans, but they are like orphans because they do not have family, so many of them. And we need to do what we can to take care of them.

No, it's so true. And focus on the family again. We've stood for life right from cradle to grave, as we say, and God's natural hand in all of that. We don't support euthanasia or some kind of economic overview as to how people should spend the money at the end of their lives. I mean, it's for them to decide. But we support life right to the end, and we would say natural death, letting God play that role in that.

I want to make sure everybody knows that. You mention in the book that few churches really speak to this area of ministry, and that's unfortunate, actually, because, again, if our goal as the Christian church is to bring people into the kingdom of God, if that's job one, to go and be part of the harvest of souls, then churches are missing it because this area is so white under the harvest, you might say. You know, there's a lot of statistics about if you don't accept the Lord by age 20 or 25 or something, you're unlikely to do that. We have seen, based on the principles that we teach for nursing home ministry, we have seen about 85 percent of the residents take Jesus' hand for salvation and for strength to get them through their days.

It's incredible. They are so open if you come to them. You know, if you bring a childlike evangelistic program to them, they're going to reject it. But if you respect them for who they are, somebody that's older than you, that's been there before you and understands things that you never even thought of, if you come to them like that and then you share with them what Jesus promised, they are very open. Bill, right at the end here for the viewer or the listener, how do you get involved?

Okay, so that's interesting. I'd like to think about that and talk to my husband and see if we could get our kids involved in that, kind of like what Gene and I did with Trent and Troy. What do we do? Well, of course, we're here to do anything and everything we can to help an individual and or a church develop an outreach to a nursing home. It doesn't take a lot. Let me just say this, that there is a great need inside the nursing home. Anyone who's a Christian and has a love for elderly people can do it and we can help you get started.

We have books, we have videos, we have coaching. Whatever we can do, we will help you get started. That's what we're here for.

And what we'll do is we'll link to the website and people can come to focusonthefamily.com and get that information and we'll make that link. But thank you for what you're doing, Bill. Thank you for the heart. I can just see your gentle spirit all over the place here and how that must be so encouraging for those elderly people in these assisted or nursing home environments to have you come in with your gentle and sweet spirit and talk with them about the Lord.

You're in the right spot. Thank you, brother. I am so grateful for the life I get to live. It's such an honor and privilege to do this work.

How about that, giving yourself in that way so people can come to know the Lord at the very end of their lives? I think that's time well spent. I so appreciate it. Thanks for being with us. Thank you, Jim.

Thank you, John. Well, listen, if you want to know more, let's start with the book, Nursing Home Ministry, and you can get a copy of that right from Focus on the Family. Just contact us. If you can help support us, we'll send it as our way of saying thank you for that support. If you can't afford it, we'll get it to you because you can put that toward the Nursing Home Ministry.

So we just want to get it into your hands. So get ahold of us here at Focus on the Family. Yeah, the website is linked in the show notes or give us a call, 800 the letter A and the word family.

800-232-6459. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Just like a warm fireplace when it's cold outside, the joy of the Christmas season gives comfort and draws us closer to loved ones. I'm John Fuller, and Focus on the Family is excited to let you know about our Christmas Stories podcast. Each episode brings heartwarming conversations to bring your family closer together and remind you of the hope we have in Jesus. You can enjoy that podcast at focusonthefamily.com slash Christmas Stories. That's focusonthefamily.com slash Christmas Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-26 23:41:16 / 2022-11-26 23:52:57 / 12

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