As the days grow shorter, the grandchildren’s Christmas lists on Amazon are getting longer. This is also the time of year when many churches begin preparing for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Lottie’s love for the people of China is akin to our love for the aging at The Baptist Home. On October 3, 1887, Lottie Moon penned these words from a hut in PingtuThe, China:
“The needs of these people press upon my soul, and I cannot be silent.”
Just as these words resonate with my call to The Baptist Home, they resonate in the hearts of thousands of International Mission Board Missionaries. One such missionary, Gretchen, is a missionary in eastern Europe. She and her husband are currently stateside due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gretchen recently spent time at The Baptist Home Arcadia Valley Campus. She graciously responded to my request to share her insights on aging outside of the America:
Ask anyone where the most horrific places are to live and they will tell you a prison, a mental institution, or a nursing home. By anyone, I mean anyone living in the Eastern European country where we serve as missionaries. These are all places where you go to die.
No one wants to imagine themselves alone and confused in old age. What if you live in a place where elder care facilities can be described as living in “isolation”, “exclusion”, “deprivation”, and “neglect”? This is the unfortunate reality in many countries around the world. Elder abuse is a global public health problem. Often, the problem lies in the lack of health education and the necessary resources.
I recently had the opportunity to spend time at the Arcadia Valley campus of The Baptist Home as part of my Master of Science in Nursing practicum. The implementation of Validation Therapy is one way that the administration and staff work to treat residents with the highest level of dignity. Compassion and acknowledgment of feelings is a priority. This level of excellence in care is exactly what Christ-followers can and must exemplify and teach others in what it means to care for seniors.
Christ modeled meeting needs and sharing truth. We use health and human needs strategies to fulfill the core missionary task. We must care for needs as we make disciples, train leaders, and start churches. Vulnerable seniors are on the heart of God, and together we can work to impact their current conditions and eternal destiny.
A missionary colleague visited a nursing home in an underdeveloped Eastern European country and was surprised to find a young woman as a resident. This woman shared her tragic story of losing her husband and children in a car accident. Now paralyzed and alone, she was surprisingly a born-again believer. She said, “Every day, I pray for a wheelchair. If I just had a wheelchair, I could share Christ with these people”.
This young woman lost everything and was fixed on one thing-sharing the Gospel with seniors who had not heard. What is our priority? The Father loves seniors and has commissioned us to pray, go, and give in order to reach them.
Like the International Mission Board, The Baptist Home is a Cooperative Program Ministry. Our vision is to be the standard of care for the aging. Providing Christlike ministry to the aging and their families is at the heart of who we are and what we do. To learn more, go to www.thebaptisthome.org.