New Birth in a Nursing Home
May 09, 2018
I like talking with older folks. When I retired from working in a local nursing home, it was natural for me to continue relationships with the elderly residents I knew there. I signed up as a volunteer and began visiting once a week to build friendships and, I hoped, to study the Bible with residents.
A few months ago the therapeutic recreation worker asked me to meet with “Helen,” a resident who seemed lonely and didn’t have many visitors. When I entered her room, I understood why!
“Who are you?” she growled at me. “What do you want?” I told her I was interested in conversation and asked if she’d like a visit. To my surprise, she agreed, and we had a short get-acquainted time.
When I visited the next week, I asked if I could pray for her. The following week a snowstorm kept me away. Would Helen remember me when I returned?
“Yes, you are the preacher lady,” she said. I chuckled to myself and asked, “What do you mean?” She said, “You know, you share the gospel with people.”
We hadn’t yet talked about the gospel, but I saw this as an opportunity to ask, “What is the gospel?”
“Believing in God and Jesus,” she replied.
“That’s right,” I said. “God loved us so much he sent Jesus to die for our sins.”
“I know that,” she said. I shared some other basic truths about the gospel, and she said she knew those, too.
“Have you ever prayed to ask God to forgive your sins and ask Jesus into your heart?” I asked. She said no, but that she would like to. We prayed together. Later she thanked me for bringing her, as she put it, “back to where I needed to be.”
She told me her family had attended church regularly when she was a child, but they had moved and never found a church in their new location. Seeds had been planted in her heart, however, and she had not forgotten what she had heard as a child.
Now, at age 89, Helen has assurance that she will go to heaven. She loves it when I read the Bible to her and pray for her. Helen’s eyesight is failing, but I write out verses for her daughter to read to her when she visits. Helen reports that her daughter is now looking for a church.
Interestingly, the woman who first asked me to visit Helen is not a believer. Yet God used her and those preachers and teachers from eight decades earlier to bring Helen to Himself. It was a privilege to be part of that process. It occurred to me that you never know when God has already been at work and someone is one step away from embracing Jesus!
Ellie and her husband, Steve, serve with Navigators Encore in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. You may email her here.