Stephen Hammersley, Chief Executive of Pilgrims’ Friend Society, shares why we’re uniting for Prayer Week 2020
Prayer Week is a reminder that prayer is a vital ministry through which people of all ages can bear fruit for the Lord.
When writing to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul talked about the people who prayed for him as ‘helping in the work’ (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). Paul wrote these words when he was under great pressure and that idea of partnership in prayer is relevant today when many Christian workers are challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic, not least those caring for older people.
In Prayer Week we pray with the people who live with us, we value their prayers for us, and we join with others in prayer for God’s work amongst older people. Over the course of the week, we’re delighted to be welcoming a number of guest writers active in this area as contributors to this blog. These include leaders from other charities (Linking Lives, Keychange, Faith in Later Life).
Prayer Week is also designed to remind us that our work to advance the Christian faith amongst older people is in vain unless it is inspired, directed, and empowered by God.
Pilgrims’ Friend Society needs prayer to help older people live fulfilled Christian lives as we provide homes for people who can no longer live safely alone and Christian housing for people who want to live independently in a Christian community. All of this carries on notwithstanding the considerable challenges of the Covid-19 virus. Pilgrims’ Friend Society needs prayer as our work is under great stress, but we also praise God for the testimonies of our residents’ trust in Jesus and their concern for others; and we thank Him for wonderful staff teams who have shown just how much they love the people they care for and support.
After much prayer over recent years we have started our Renewal Programme that will, over the next decade, make sure that all of our facilities are able to welcome everyone who needs Christian care. Amongst other things, this means building new homes where our existing buildings have limited access and are not built to connect with the surrounding community. Our first new build, Middlefields House in Chippenham, will be ready in the late spring of 2021. Covid-19 increases the need for the work made possible through these new facilities, but it also makes the Renewal Programme harder to fund, and so it increases the need for prayer!
Pilgrims’ Friend Society’s work has always been a ministry with local churches. In our third century we are rediscovering and re-examining our vision of what that might mean for us and the UK. Is it possible, for example, in partnership with our sister charity Faith in Later Life and local churches that no older person in the UK dies lonely without having had the opportunity to hear the gospel? There are enough churches, there are more older Christians than ever before to share the gospel with their peers, and there are more older people to reach than ever before Dare we pray for revival as some of our residents have done? Are we open to the Lord moving? God willing we are.
Linked to this, we have seen the Lord bless our work on dementia. We have helped people see that dementia is a disease that cannot separate believers from Christ and as we have helped Christians understand the illness better we have also been able to help churches reach out to people and their carers. We pray that we will be able to be of even more use in this area.
So, as we come to the start of Prayer Week, we ask that you join us in these three prayers:
- Thank God for Christians testifying to how they have seen the Lord at work through previous national and international crises. Please pray that older people who are lonely and anxious today would also come know the God of all comfort
- Pray that those caring for older people at home and through churches and charities like Pilgrims’ Friend Society would know the Lord’s equipping and hear His words of strengthening and direction
- Pray for great and godly wisdom amongst our leaders as they grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic and the protection of those most vulnerable to the disease
Find out more about the vital role of prayer in the history of our charity