Sylvia Clovey, Marketing and Communications Manager at Pilgrims' Friend Society, shares why Christian care makes a difference in later life.
Christian care is built on the foundation of faith, hope and love, with the greatest of these being Love. The compassion that Christian carers have comes from knowing Christ and the gift of grace, and for many this is a calling to use their God-given gifts to serve others
as Jesus commands.
As part of the marketing team at PFS I have been blessed and privileged to speak to hundreds of older people, relatives and friends attracted by the prospect of being able to live out their faith in a caring Christian environment. Just talking about the way we care and the biblical principles that guide our work brings a real excitement and hope; a reassurance that they or their loved ones will be safely and well cared for and their spiritual needs will be met too.
Kindness and compassion for the weak and vulnerable are in the DNA of Christian caring. I have seen first-hand and heard many stories from around our homes of carers coming alongside residents who are feeling sad, worn down by frailty or constant pain, or even having a crisis of faith because of their circumstances. A word of encouragement from scripture or offering to pray with someone can make a
world of difference – the prayers go up and the Holy Spirit does the work!
We also know that older Christians in our care have been hearing about God’s promises and have experienced God’s grace over many years, so they know that their frail bodies, and even death, isn’t the end of the story – they are looking forward to an eternity with
Christ where pain, sickness and death are no more – a new season of life! I was so humbled to hear a 102-year-old resident with multiple health issues in one of our homes say: “I have so much to be thankful for….” and “I know God has got more work for me to do here…”.
CARING IN THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY
Christians care in the light of ‘eternity’. Through their understanding of the gospel, Christian staff can see why the spiritual needs of our residents are as important as their physical and social needs. In Matthew 25 Jesus exhorts his disciples to use their Godgiven
gifts in the service of God – their personal abilities (“talents”) as well as their personal wealth. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:45).
Pilgrims’ Friend Society believes the latter part of life should be a time of fulfilment and flourishing. Indeed, Psalm 92 says “…they will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green”. We know that when plants flourish they grow, they bear fruit, they flower, and they scatter seeds; however, if a plant fails to flourish, it droops, it doesn’t bear fruit, it shrivels up and eventually dies. Flourishing means life, and for Christians it means abundant life with Christ.
Good Christian care enables older people in our homes to continue to grow and flourish as God intended. As well as excellent physical care, Christian carers in our homes encourage older Christians in their faith through quiet bible reading, one-to-one prayer times, fellowship through devotional times, services etc.
A verse from one of my favourite hymns (Yet not I but through Christ in me) sums up beautifully why the care of older Christians is so
important to PFS:
"With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne."