Old people. Let me tell you: old people are great. I love them and we need to respect them. They have seen and experienced more than you and they have survived more than you. Well I don’t know how many of you have visited nursing homes as ministry or for some event, but it is a unique experience. Part of this uniqueness is due to the fact that people ar ethere for a number of reasons. Someone may be sick. Someone just may be alone. Someone may have mental problems. You never know. Its very tricky to engage the people but its very fulfilling also.
Now, try imagining going to a nursing home in Bulgaria iwth a differenet language and everything. This is what me, Team Bulgaria and the Christ Community Church team did a couple weeks ago. It is not easy, but then most good things never are.
I have learned, and this is possibly the biggest lesson Bulgaria has taught me, that you can approach a ministry like this in two ways. The first way is to go and do what you are told, sit and play songs, do crafts, say hello, and for the most part keep a certain distance from the people. This does not just apply to nursing homes but any ministry. The second way is scary and is to dive in and try to connect with the people. Actively walking up to them saying hi then trying to learn more about them.
Many of us did this at this nursing home. It was fun and challenging. It was scary becacuse trying to talk in Bulgarian is always dififcult. God was able to give me the right words, however, and I was actaully to have a long conversation with a man in a wheelchair. I found out his daughter lives on the East Coast of the US and is a doctor. I found out a little bit about his life. I also found out he believes God has never helped him.
Well, when I heard this I was disheartened. Here I had a prime opportunity of witnessing that God had given me with this man and I didn’t know what to do. How to find the right words to say. I left the man and shared my predicament with one of the Americans there. We prayed about it and I returned to the man. I did the only thing I could do: continued our conversation. I found out his wife also was in the nursing home and that he had been married I believe for 60 years. 60 years! I said “I find it hard to believe God is not helping you when he gave you this beautiful wife who is still with you today”. We talked some more and you should see the way he hugged me! LIke he really really needed someone!
I ended the time there by saying to him “I thinking God is helping and I will be praying for you. I also hope to see you again”. And I do hope to visit again and see him. Man it was an eye-opening experience at this nursing home, one I will remember for ever. And it is what happens when you don’t just do what you are told in a ministry, but actually step over the boundary and connect with people.