As the laborers of Life-Line Ministries give of themselves to the people confined to nursing homes and living in retirement facilities, God reflects back to them the wonders and miracles of God through the very people they have come to serve.
The Lord brings them face to face with living testimonies as they work to bring others to know Christ, reminding them of what God can accomplish through them.
It was a warm Sunday afternoon in June 2009 on which I first observed the hands-on work of Life-Line Ministries at the Country Hills Nursing Home in El Cajon. I had been told stories by the ministrys leaders, Ken Davis and Pastor Jim Hakes, in prior conversations, but now a few faces were put to the individuals who have impacted Ken and Pastor Jims lives in such a profound way.
The Life-Line Ministries team was gathered outside the main entrance as I arrived. After introductions, instructions and prayer, we all went to the room where the Bible study session was to take place. The team began gathering the residents from their rooms, wheeling them in chairs and beds; a few were ambulatory. As this session was going on, I shadowed Ken as he made his way to the rooms of residents who couldnt or didnt want to make it to the Bible study. After all was over, he and I went to find Jose.
Hopes and Dreams
Jose Chavez was an individual Ken had talked about and this was my opportunity to learn first-hand from Jose. We found him sitting in his wheelchair, pushed up to a table in the cafeteria, waiting for lunch to be served.
Jose, blind and confined to a nursing home, still has hopes and dreams like anyone else.
Jose talked to me about his place of birth, and about growing up in Calexico. He spoke of his life as a young man, being with many women and having many children, and being intoxicated much of the time. In 1969 Jose was in a car accident, hit head on by a teenage drunk driver on a highway near Calexico. He lost the sight in both eyes, among other injuries. It was three or four years later when someone lead him to Christ, and he began to attend church. In our conversation it became evident that over the years Jose had grown in his faith and had come to fully embrace that the only kind of relationship he should be in was to marry one woman who also held faith in Christ. His drinking stopped.
What I came to realize through the course of our conversation was that Jose, blind and confined to a nursing home, still has hopes and dreams like anyone else. Regardless of age, regardless of disability, regardless of circumstances, he still hopes and dreams and desires. I thought of how some people interact with the elderly and the sick as if they were children, whether it is in the tone of voice or the vocabulary used. How blind we can be. How careful we must be to remember this person lived a world of experiences and deserves respect above all else in spite of the present outer shell and state of mind.
Jose expressed how he dreams of green pastures, visualizing the scene in his mind. There is great beauty in his smile as he speaks of this.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2-3
Jose told me of his hope to return home to Calexico and to marry a woman who believes in Christ as he does. As Ken expressed, the likelihood of one leaving these facilities is very minimal, once their health has begun to fail.
The 'Gift of Sight' to See Christ
And then there is the gift that stands out in Ken and Pastor Jims mind above everything else concerning Jose. When the collection was taken up at one of the Bible study sessions, Jose put in $10 of the $35 he had left over for the month after the home took their portion of his income. The thought came to me of all those believers who have suffered so much less, who have been granted so much more, but dont give at all of what belongs to God anyway.
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had. Luke 21:1-4
Forty years Jose has lived unable to see with eyes of clay, but was given the gift of sight to see Christ, to realize total peace as he dreams of green pastures, to place his hope and trust in God for blessings to come, to see beyond his need and give abundantly back to God. Perhaps he has acquired more sight than those of us still possessing our eyes of clay.
Twas blind, but now I see Amazing Grace
For more information about the Convalescent Home Ministry, click here »