Old But Not Worthless

An elderly woman embraces the call to minister to others in her nursing home.

Edith, recently widowed, was depressed. After her husband's death, she experienced a stroke and was partially paralyzed. Against Edith's will, her daughters urged her to move to a nursing home. Nursing homes, Edith thought, were for Alzheimer octogenarians in Depends—not for the youthful in spirit like herself.

For the first few months, Edith refused to mingle with the residents, despite numerous kind invitations. The only community she experienced was on Sunday mornings, when a bus shuttled her to a local church for an hour.

One Sunday, the pastor spoke about the need for hosts to launch new small groups in the church. Edith's heart twitched with excitement; perhaps she would be able to join one of these emerging small groups. But she wasn't able to get into a home-based small group because none of the homes were handicap accessible. The small group minister urged her to start up one in her retirement community.

Edith first refused, but she decided to pray about it. God revealed to her she had a choice to contribute to the kingdom or sit back and complain. A week later, Edith began shoulder-tapping people she previously shunned. Over 20 people showed up for the study, hungry for fellowship. In fact, a 93-old man from outside the nursing home heard about the study and asked his son to drive him to the nursing home once a week for the study.

Edith quickly learned elderly people need to be encouraged by God's Word and each other. In the process, focusing on others had taken away the resentment she had toward being in the nursing home.

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