How I Got Started
Both my parents had died after long term stays in several nursing homes. I was very uncomfortable visiting there, but definitely saw the great need for ministry. When I sought the Lord's Will for my life, I pleaded for Him to take me anywhere but back to a nursing home.
During a business trip, I was listening to a Christian talk show that was interviewing a lady named Dorothy Miller, who had just published a video and book called "A Song for Grandmother." For some strange reason I ordered both of them. When I watched the video, my tears lasted during the whole 30 minutes. The Lord had broken my heart toward the confined elderly.
I showed the video at our church during a Wednesday dinner meeting and 12 people volunteered to help. The problem was that no wanted to be the leader of the group. After trying every possible way to avoid it, I volunteered to lead the group. I visited a local nursing home and met with the Activities Director and the Administrator.
When I entered the home, everything was different, since I was doing it with Christ, and He had gone before me to pave the way. Everyone was receptive, and we started making weekly visits the following week. We conducted an informal worship service on Tuesdays after lunch, and then expanded to a Sing-a-Long on Thursday evenings. At times we had as many as 25 volunteers.
I met with our pastor about our group and decided it would not be totally a church sponsored group, but would be interdenominational. Our pastor wrote me a "Letter of Recommendation" which I used in interviews with other nursing homes. Our group included Catholics and several other Christian denominations. We extended to visiting two other facilities, and at times it seem I was spending more time at the care facilities than at home.
The Lord gave me the name "Faithful Friends" for our group. Because of a change in jobs involving much travel, I had to cut back on our visitations. At the same time, I was learning about the internet and how to design web sites. I started with a small, free web site that was built with a template. It has evolved into what you see now at Faithfulfriends.org.
I started visiting a local facility here in the Stuart area about two years ago with a local church group. My role with them has been in leadership training and delivering a sermonette every two weeks. I started a Monday Bible Study about 2 months ago at another facility, which I currently do by myself.
We have had the opportunity through the web site to assist people all over the world who want to minister to the elderly. It was through the web site that I developed relationships with The Sonshine Society and with Bill Goodrich of God Cares Ministry. I also met Tom McCormick, who had published the only comprehensive training guide called "Nursing Home Ministry- A Manual, which is now out of print.
The web site has allowed me to share the experiences of my visiting care facilities for over 10 years. Also, I have used my web site to share the experiences and resources of other ministries. Our "Love Notes" newsletter gets emailed to over a thousand people.
The most important thing I can stress is that this is a layman's ministry. Most clergy are too busy to even visit members of their own church. Ministry at care facilities will probably never become a major ministry of a particular church. The good news is that the Lord is calling workers to the Harvest from all around the globe, and many of them are communicating that fact at our web site. Maybe the numbers seem small compared to other ministries, but it is real and it is growing, as is the number of residents at these homes.
Always remember something told to me by a compassionate and experienced activities director- "You can not mess up nursing home ministry- the need is too great and the reception is too overwhelming." Fear not, for Christ is with you.
Director, Faithful Friends Nursing Home Ministry
Faithful Friends Nursing Home Ministry
Larry & Sandy Wasserman