I think sometimes that many churches spend too much time waiting for the next campaign—the next “40-days-of-something”—and we miss out on the opportunities that are passing us by every day to live and share the Gospel. Fortunately, we don’t need to wait for a programmed emphasis to care for those around us.
Please don’t get me wrong. As a business administration and marketing major, I know the value of campaigns. I just don’t want us to miss out on all that God could be doing through us and our churches to care for the widow and the elderly living in skilled nursing care centers day by day because it doesn’t fit into the next program. I also don’t want us to miss out on opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through the simplest of things in our lives.
James 1:27 is a call to every believer to visit the widow her distress and God has given us some powerful clues for how we might accomplish this work in His Word.
In Acts 2:42–47, we see that after Pentecost the church had its greatest impact for the gospel through small groups who met in each others homes. These groups met for meals, to study and to help each other live out what they were learning from the apostles’ teaching.
Today your small group may be a group that meets in someone’s home, or it may be a Sunday school class that meets at your church. The principle is the same. With many small groups throughout the body of Christ doing specific things in the power of the Holy Spirit gospel-centered transformation can occur!
Here are a few ideas of how your small group can take action to help widows and the elderly living in skilled nursing care centers:
1. Plan a group project to raise money to care for the elderly. There are a number of fun ways to raise money, including running a marathon or shaving your head! I’m sure you can think of many creative ways to raise the funds. Surprisingly, as little as $2,000 can fund a certified chaplain visiting a skilled nursing care center 3 times a week for a month. Consistent visits build relationships and confidence with not only the residents, but the staff, as well. Just a few dollars a month from each person in the group can make a huge difference in the life of a resident through weekly Bible study and ongoing ministry.
2. Consider donating simple supplies like hand lotions, slippers, large print books and Bibles or other items to make Christmas gifts. Instead of buying Secret Santa gifts for each other, pool your money and purchase gifts for a care center through a ministry like Crossroads Ministries USA.
3. Build a long-term relationship between your small group and a local care center. Plan regular visits to check on a lonely widow and take care of small tasks like writing letters, manicures, or anything she might have trouble doing by herself.
4. Go Christmas caroling with your group to a couple of nursing homes and take a basket of holiday goodies. Invite them to be part of your group’s Christmas celebration by hosting it at the care center. Fellowship at this time can be a real source of encouragement to someone who feels lonely and forgotten.
5. Speak up together for the oppressed, especially the elderly. As a part of your regular meeting times, pray regarding the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide, loss of proper medical care, and other forms of oppression.
It takes about 46,000 steps to complete a marathon. One step out of 46,000 doesn’t seem so significant, but in accomplishing the goal, no single step can stand on its own. However, working together, we form a mighty army. In trying to care for the millions of elderly living in skilled nursing care and assisted living centers, the actions of your small groups may seem like small steps, but without them, we will never move toward the goal of ending oppression and neglect of the elderly to the glory of God! No matter how small the group, your efforts and actions can and will make a difference.
Gather your friends and learn together about the crisis-level issues regarding long-term care of the elderly. Get involved with organizations that are working on the front lines of these issues. Raise awareness in your community and find creative ways to support “the widow” as we’ve been commanded in James 1:27. Get in the race!
We train individuals, families, churches and groups to befriend this forgotten generation.