On Easter Sunday, our nursing home ministry group held special Easter services, after which one resident made a decision to become a Christian! We also brought potted plants – a variety of tulips, lilies, hydrangeas, etc. – as gifts for the residents at the nursing homes we visit. Here are some stories of our members’ experiences:
Jenny: I ran into Grandpa H, who attends our services regularly, in the hallway. I greeted him and showed him the potted plant that I was about to take to his room for him. He responded saying that instead of keeping the plant for himself, he wanted to give his plant to someone else at the nursing home who didn’t receive any visitors, and he led me to that person’s room.
I was really touched by his generous gesture, knowing how much the residents treasured the potted plants to the point that there were some grandmas following our group around ensuring they received one. His gesture of love reminded me of God’s love because Grandpa H thought of other people’s needs above his own.
Jane: The grandmas and grandpas we visited were definitely touched. Some of them brightened up and cheerfully responded, “Happy Easter to you too!” or “God bless you.” One grandpa, Mr. J, was especially thoughtful when he insisted that I leave the plant out in the lobby for other people to enjoy as well. He showed a selflessness that is hard to find in the nursing homes, where people often keep to themselves and know only their own worlds.
Jenny and I also got to meet G, who is blind and confined to her bed due to paralysis of her lower body. Kenny and our Element students had actually first met her when they visited on our Valentine’s Day of Compassion in 2010. Amazingly, she was still wearing the cross bead necklace from that day and still remembered “Kenneth.” She really appreciates our church, and quickly opened up to me and Jenny, sharing about her life and the history of her medical condition as a paralytic. I’m thankful that we visited the residents in their rooms with potted plants, as that gave us a chance to meet this precious woman G.
Eileen: After our Easter Sunday service, I spoke with Ms. L who had raised her hand in response to George’s invitation for people to make a decision to become Christian. She told me that if I looked at her legs, that I would notice that they are damaged and that they don’t work, and additionally she has been suffering for a long time because she has not been able to control her mind. There are thoughts that she cannot control and no matter how hard she tries, her concentration and thoughts go awry. She has tried to end her life on several occasions, and the last attempt was when she lost the use of her legs because she decided to step in front of a moving car. Then she looked at me and said, “Well, I guess now I know there’s a reason why I didn’t die that day.” She said that knowing that Jesus died for her and rose from the grave gives her hope because she can know God. We talked about what it means to have a relationship with God and how sin is what broke our relationship with Him in the first place. I asked her if she knew what sin was and what it meant to be a sinner, and Ms. L knew what sin was but stated she had never murdered anyone before. I explained to her while things like murder, greed, envy, hatred, etc. might be ways in which sin is lived out, sin is at the core of who we are because we are separated from God, we turned away from Him, and before I could go further she said, “Oh, so I’m still a sinner then.” We talked some more about sin, our need for God and what happened on the cross and at the resurrection. She told me that she prays often to God because she hopes that He would hear her even though sometimes she feels so lonely and miserable. I told her that God hears her and that while she may not ever regain total control of her mind, that God knows her suffering and does not want her to suffer. She said that she understood now that God is good, that she is a sinner and that there is reason to live.
I told her that I was really happy that she was there with us and that she is deciding to start a relationship with God. I asked if I could pray for her and said, “Oh, yes. That would be nice. Please pray for my mind.” I prayed for her and thanked God that she was able to understand the gospel message. I prayed for her mind, first of all, thanking God that she sat through our service and understood everything. I prayed that in her times of frustration, misery and loneliness, that she would turn to God in prayer and know that He loves her as His daughter and sees and knows her pain.
After we prayed, we talked about our families and soon I noticed that what she was saying was no longer making sense and going off topic. I eventually ended my conversation with her as we had to pack up to go, and walked away with a sense of amazement that for that 10 minutes or so, she was able to fully understand the message and make this decision to start a relationship with God. I’m thankful that Ms. L came to our service and that we were able to share the gospel with her in that perfect window of opportunity where her mind was clear and her heart was open.