So, I found that for a short period of time, I had at least one day a week that I could give to my church for visitation ministry. I wanted to help lighten the load of the pastoral staff at my home church since during this last year one of the associates entered his eternal reward (suddenly) and another moved to the mission field. I thought that visitation ministry meant I would be going to hospitals and meeting the sick. But, on my first day, I visited two people with Alzheimer’s disease and I met six who were between the ages of 80-101 in an elderly community.
I wasn’t prepared for these encounters, but I welcomed them. Yes, wherever I went on that day and the successive days, I was heartily welcomed (and in some cases with cheers). These are the people who stood behind me as I grew up in the church and as I moved on to other places. They were among the first financial and prayer supporters of our ministry abroad.
I have enjoyed this new and temporary ministry. I could only give three months toward this before returning overseas, but it was worth it. I learned much about what it is like to grow old. Of course, I only met with them for a few minutes out of their long lives, but I went to listen and to hear their hearts. I also would read a Scripture and then ask how I could pray with them. One 93-year-old woman whom I have known for 30 years quickly answered, “pray that I’ll be a good witness about Jesus where I am living.” Wow! I’m sure she could have asked that I pray for her sore joints, but she is still concerned to share the gospel after all these years.
During this time of visitation, I have, also, been visited. I have a new friend, called “Arthur,” and he visits me in a typically unannounced fashion. He usually awakens me in the morning, before my aging bladder begins to burst. He seems to love to tug at my left thumb, and I often “cheer” when he reminds me that he is with me. Yes, you guessed it, his full name is “Arthritis,” and he is neither a friend nor a welcomed guest. But he does remind me that I am getting old. And my new ministry has shown me that when I get old,
I need to be thankful for every blessing that God visits on me, and not to give unnecessary attention to the negative side of old age.
So, while I am pushing fifty, I need to keep my eyes on the goal that one day, Lord-willing, I will be pushing sixty, seventy and beyond. How will I greet those who visit me? Will I be complaining about my sore joints or asking for prayer that I be a good witness?
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom