Fulfilled living in later life
Taking the gospel to Britain's care home congregations

Wednesday 4th December 2019

Taking the gospel to Britain's care home congregations

Croydon pastor Felix Appiah is urging Elim churches to join him in winning souls for Christ by ministering in care homes.

A pastor has encouraged churches to step out and reach the elderly. Pastor Felix Appiah regularly visits care homes in Croydon, holding services, praying for the sick and comforting residents. “It’s brilliant!” he says. “The doors are open for the Christian Church to come into care homes.”

Felix, 42, who was ordained in 2015, started off this ministry by visiting some members of the church who were living in care homes.
“Visitation of church members is part of my duties designated to me by my senior minister, who encouraged me to try and make contact with our local care and nursing homes,” Felix explains.

Armed with his Bible, the father of two discovered a need that was not being met. “The residents were just sitting there and doing nothing,” he says. “So I spoke to some of them. Many of them were believers who’d been abandoned by their local church. I realised that these were my brothers and sisters.”

Not content to leave them lonely, Felix arranged with the manager to start a service in the home. “We go to encourage the believers who are already there but also other residents and extended family who may be visiting,” Felix says. “In some of the homes that we
go to, people are from a different part of the country. They might be Hindus or Muslims and this is also an opportunity to bring Christ to them – for them to know that Jesus loves them.

“Staff take part in the services too, and they really get into it. In some of the care homes, the staff look forward to it more than the residents! “As many residents are quite advanced in age, fragile and may be affected by multiple health issues, this ministry brings hope to them and also prepares them for heaven. “I’ve had the privilege of conducting funerals for some of the residents who have passed on. I see this as a great opportunity to bring the gospel to friends and loved ones who wouldn’t normally go to church.”

Felix is now ministering in nine homes and has no intention of stopping there. “The reason that I do this is in response to the commandment that Jesus Christ gave which was to ‘go into all of the world and preach the gospel to all creation’,” Felix explains. “It’s because I love the people. If love is not the foundation or the reason that you do it, you’re not going to get very far. There are so many things that can discourage, but love covers a multitude of sins. “Love is one of the most powerful things that we as Christians have. The main aim is to bring the knowledge of Christ. But we don’t just bring hope for this world, but hope for the world to come.”

Felix admits that a strong sense of humour is also helpful. “We encourage lots of interaction,” he says. “During the Easter service I asked the question, ‘What was Jesus going to Jerusalem to do?’ and one of the residents came back with, ‘He was going to the pub to have a pint of Guinness!’ But you just bring them back to Jesus.”

The 45-minute service includes singing, Bible readings and a short gospel message. “We sing them songs and ask them to share what their week has been like and any stories of what God has done,” Felix says. “Songs are a wonderful way of reaching people. Not everyone can communicate but songs can reach a person’s spirit. Another thing we do is encourage the residents to share their stories. This helps others to know that this is not something that’s being pushed on people, but that they’ve experienced Christ in their lives.

“Our country used to be very Christcentred but that’s died out. There are people who’ve never heard the Word of God before – not just residents but staff. We need to get out there and win souls for Jesus.”

And care home residents and staff alike are singing Felix’s praises. “Our service users look forward to the Tuesday services,” says Jocelyn, a manager at Mary’s Care Home in Croydon. “They all attend the service and tell us that they are benefiting from the songs and Bible reading. They would like to have more sessions if possible!”

This article first appeared in the December edition of iBelieve.