As soon as I came on staff at church I learned about the “flower ministry”. When I came around the corner to my office there was a field of flowers on a cabinet. They were beautiful and all in a glass vase with a ribbon and a card. Church members with a servant’s heart take these flowers to their assigned people. Before the flowers are picked up a pastor prays over the flowers, for those who will be delivering them and receiving them, and for God to bless this ministry. My mom has always visited the home bound and I know what an important ministry this is! The least we can do for our church members who can no longer make it to church is to visit them! We need to let them know they are cared for and loved! 1 Timothy 5: 16, "If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.“
I met with my friend, Barbara, about this ministry and watched the passion pour out of her! We quickly learned that we both have a passion for the elderly. Her dad had passed down the love of the elderly to her. When I was in college I worked as a weekend receptionist at a retirement home and I had lots of grandparents. I learned so much from them. Job 12: 12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Barbara started visiting the home bound about 30 years ago. We shared so many stories, laughs and tender moments about our friends. What was most obvious was how blessed we were by them! As Barbara said, “They have enriched her life more than she could ever imagine!”
We also both shared how full of wisdom these people are. They have already been down the road we are going. They have had the feelings we are having. They can teach us. Titus 2: 3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Barbara’s first story was of Sam who only had a nephew who he never saw. As a volunteer at the help center in her town she heard about Sam and started visiting him and playing checkers with him. This went on for years and Sam was one of her best friends! When Sam died she learned that his “family” was eight United Methodist women from the local church who visited him weekly. Together, they planned his funeral and buried him in his favorite outfit - his overalls. She learned of another family who had lost their young daughter to cancer and the father wrote a book about his daughter's life. Sam was in that book. Sam had been a blessing to so many!
Today Barbara has three women she visits. Although Billie does not know Barbara’s name, her face lights up as soon as she sees her! She loves flowers and has a spirit of graciousness for everything in her life. She loved to entertain in her home and loves to share those stories. Even though she now lives in a nursing facility, she remains appreciative. Barbara leaves feeling more appreciative. God is still using Billie and no telling how many lives she touches!
Barbara's face lights up when she talks about Martha. Their relationship quickly blossomed into a close friendship, making her one of Barbara’s best friends. Barbara describes her as an amazing and loving woman! She is able to take her places, to lunch, to run errands. She has taken Martha to visit Billie and they reminisce about times at church and the many gatherings at Billie’s home. Martha was a Christian educator and she shares her faith with Barbara. Barbara is beyond blessed by these visits!
Barbara’s third lady has family who visits but she confides in Barbara as if she is another daughter. That is what makes this ministry so important - we are not family. We are church family - someone who comes because they are a friend. Someone who sits and listens. They have also become friends. Before we left each other Barbara reminded me again, “I was called to do this. People need people to just sit with them. I have never NOT gotten a smile or appreciation! I have gotten so much more out of this than I have ever given - it has come back tenfold! Hebrews 13: 15, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
As Barbara said this all started because she read one morning, “let me be a blessing to someone today.” That seed was planted and look at all of the blooms that have come over the past thirty years! She has a bouquet of beautiful flowers called Sam, Billie, Martha and many more! What a blessing this bouquet has been in her life! While some of the blooms may have been brief the memory of its beauty will last a lifetime!
Have you been a blessing to someone today?