Scriptural Basis for Visiting Nursing Home Residents
You may not feel you are called to visit those in nursing homes. However, check out this Scripture: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Mat 25:37-40).
When a person is in a nursing home, it is because they can no longer care for themselves. They are at the mercy of others to give them care and minister love to them. Most are sick in some sense. That is, they may not be able to walk, think, talk, or function normally. And because they must live in a place like a nursing home, it is a type of prison. Yes, we can take them out for visits, but they must return. These people are included in the “least of these” that Jesus was talking about.
Scripture tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The idea of looking after orphans and widows conveys the thought that these people have no one else to look after them. They are the helpless people in society. Because 70 percent of nursing home residents are women, most are widows. Many of these ladies are in distress. Similarly, the men in nursing homes can be considered orphans, because they are no longer able to fend for themselves.
You get the point. We are all called by God to visit those in nursing homes. Some of us may have better skills in this area than others. However, raising your skill level is simply a matter of practice. The real need is for our hearts to listen to the call of God.
Paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13, “If I visit nursing homes seven days per week and pray with people there, but have not love, it will not help them or me.” Our first step, then, is to pray that God would give us a love of older people who need someone to bring Christian love to them. So many people are looking for ministries in churches, but ignoring the great need all around them. It is as though they need a program to plug into, or they cannot share the love of God. That is far from the truth. If you are willing, God will use you right where you are. There is full employment for those who are willing to share the love of Christ. The harvest is ripe all around you.
If you have heard an inner call from God, don’t talk yourself out of it. Take steps to do it. Scripture tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Your blessing depends on a deeper obedience to what God is telling you.