When Milford and Mary Riggs opened the doors of The Baptist Home in 1913, those early residents were referred to as “inmates.” Fortunately, the term did not stick! However, coronavirus restrictions in place since March have obligated residents of care facilities to live a near prison-like existence. Envision for a moment what it would be like to be physically estranged from family, friends and church for Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, July 4th, Birthdays, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For those living in health care facilities, it has been nearly a year since they been able to enjoy the embrace of children, families, friends and church members.
This hardship is a reality for every one of the 75,000 Missourians whose home is within a licensed care facility. Restoring residents’ rights to visitation depends on widespread participation in the Covid-19 vaccination program. Protecting our most vulnerable population from this disease is possible. Therefore, I want to challenge Missouri Baptists to be informed about the vaccination and the reasons most people should be vaccinated. The Baptist Home website includes a page of vaccination resources. Of note is the interview between Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. For those desiring a more personal perspective on the vaccination, click on the link to The Nursing Home Podcast interview with family physician Deborah Gilboa.
The Baptist Home staff are available to speak to churches and small groups via technology or in person with social distancing. Our team can discuss the vaccination program and to explain why receiving the vaccination is right for most people. More information please visit The Baptist Home website at https://thebaptisthome.org/vaccine-news/.
Across Missouri our churches struggle to keep young people in church after high school. The statistics on church drop-outs are sobering. According to a 2017 LifeWay study, 66% of church members between the ages of 18-22 stopped attending church. The lyrics of a hit song from World War I sum up the challenges in the lines, “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree?” The answer might be, “keep ‘em at home.”
I was 17 years old when a deacon who taught at the local high school encouraged me to explore a career in nursing. Until that time, healthcare was not even on my vocational radar. His words planted the seeds that continue to bear fruit.
Pastors, parents and youth leaders would do well to encourage high school students to consider health care careers. Unlike many careers, healthcare openings exist in every county in Missouri. Moreover, training for healthcare careers readily available throughout our state.
Missouri Baptists are blessed to have healthcare programs taught from a Biblical worldview available through Hannibal LaGrange University, Missouri Baptist University and Southwest Baptist University. Students in these programs can pursue careers in Nursing, Physical Therapy, Health Care Administration and Social Services. Many of the courses and programs are available online for those who desire to study without relocating. For those whom finances are a barrier, on-the-job training for careers as Certified Nursing Assistants allow men and women to earn an income while receiving the training required for certification. The Baptist Home currently offers CNA training at the Ozark campus, and is working to certification opportunities to other campuses later this year.
A partnership between Hannibal-LaGrange University and The Baptist Home is under development that would establish an accredited university extension to train LPNs at The Baptist Home in Chillicothe. These programs allow many high school graduates to pursue a career without leaving home.
Finally, for those called to ministry, healthcare platforms such as nursing provide a perfect platform for bi-vocational ministry. As a result, I was able to graduate from seminary debt free. This is something to think about the next time a young person asks the “what next” question.