I've never found it difficult to think of big ideas. I can always fix things in my head. It's putting plans into action that I often find impossible.
At the start of the year, I mentioned in 5 Hopes For 2012 that I'd really like to meet with and serve the elderly in some way. This has plagued my thoughts since my Nan passed away 14 months ago. A close friend of mine works in a nursing home - the same nursing home my Nan lived in during the final month of her life - and sometimes the stories she tells me break my heart. Old people with no family or friends to visit them. Old people who DO have family nearby, but who can never be bothered visiting. She told me about one lady who was supposed to be picked up and taken out for lunch by her family on Christmas Day, but the family never showed up and she was left waiting for ages. Finally she resigned herself to the fact that they weren't coming and went inside to have lunch with the staff and other residents. When the staff phoned her family, they just said, "Oh yeah, sorry we can't come now," (this family never came to visit usually anyway). At least my Nan had stacks of visitors. Some of these old people have no-one except the nursing home staff who are determined that they see out their final days with dignity.
I'm wondering whether I could go and visit the residents in the nursing home in town. Just to have a cuppa and a chat. Maybe play Scrabble or cards or something. I don't know. To be honest, I'm worried that it's just another one of my ideas that will fade away without coming to fruition. I'm too scared to go alone and there's no-one I know nearby who seems interested in the elderly. I keep hearing about kids, kids and....kids. Kids are our future. Young people are the leaders of tomorrow. We need to be putting our time and energy into them because they're the ones who are most likely to become Christians...blah, blah, blah. I'm just not interested in doing kids' ministry. Yes, it's very important and I'm glad that there are people who are doing it. But I'm not that person. My passion is for those at the other end of life. But I appear to be alone in that.
Sometimes I even wonder why I care so much about old people. It's not that I want a surrogate Nana. I miss mine, but no-one will ever replace her. Let's face it...old people can be downright cantankerous and difficult. Statistics show they are the hardest demographic to reach with the gospel. Either it's because they are too pigheaded to listen to anyone younger than they are, or they've been 'churched' sometime in their life and think they don't need religion (when they've never actually met Jesus properly). They can be rude, patronising and stuck in their ways. I'm constantly astounded by old people in churches who sit in the same seat every week (even though there are other empty, comfortable and convenient seats available) and growl at visitors who dare to sit in THEIR seat. Why bother? I met young Christians at uni who had that view. We need to be concentrating on uni students because that sort of ministry is STRATEGIC. I met one person who said the elderly were too difficult to convert. Umm isn't it GOD'S work, not ours?
Despite the obstacles, I still feel very strongly about putting effort into people who are at the END of their lives. I know all sorts of tragedies can take the lives of young people, but the likelihood is that older people will probably die first. Therefore, shouldn't their need to hear about Jesus be urgent? Do we believe in a God of statistics or a God of miracles? A God who can turn the most ardent opponent into a passionate follower.
Time is short and my Nan's death really hit home that fact. I tried to tell her the gospel while she lay in hospital. Despite having a church background, for years she had been a cynic and a critic. Yet, I could see her soften in those final months. I don't want any old person to die without REALLY hearing about Jesus.
So, what do I do? I'm still praying and waiting. Waiting for opportunities. Waiting for someone to come along and share this passion. Waiting to see if there will be a call for volunteers at the local nursing home, or whether I should just step out boldly and see what happens. But one thing has become very clear to me. The body of Christ is a body. We need all of the parts. The wisdom of the old is just as vital as the spiritedness of the young.