By the time she passed away, Edwina had been a regular for several years at Jim Hakes' Bible study at her convalescent home. When her family came from Texas to pack her personal belongings, they found a congratulatory certificate she'd gotten at the study as a keepsake of her being saved.
They called Jim and asked him to perform her memorial service; when he did, eight of Edwina's family members accepted the Lord.
Antonia* woke from a coma, frantic and hopeless. She tugged at her feeding tube and begged to die. When the director of her convalescent home called Jim Hakes, he came to her side, and convinced her that "as long as she is taking breath, she is taking it for the Lord and not for herself."
I had the pleasure of visiting Antonia on my second visit to Chase Care in El Cajon as a new volunteer with Lifeline Ministries, a ministry devoted to serving the residents of local nursing homes through room visitation and weekly Bible studies.
When I saw her beaming face, she was being visited by her husband and daughter. Though her family members can only make it about once a month, she is one of the lucky few that get visitors at all.
According to Pastor Jim Hakes, the ministry's founder and leader now headquartered at Sonrise Community Church, nearly 30 percent of the residents of the homes they serve have had no visitors at all in the past year.
Who's Watching You?
It's amazing the difference the demonstration of God's love can make in a person's life
Lifeline Ministries began several years ago in the heart of a man whose life would first be changed by heartache and trials. A Vietnam veteran and family man, Jim Hakes was working two jobs and trying to keep his family afloat. While working as an aqua fitness instructor at a local gym, Hakes noticed for a period of a few weeks that he was being watched.
His onlooker was the activities director of a convalescent home called Arroyo Care, and she was looking for someone to lead her patients in wheelchair exercises. Though the overworked and overbooked Hakes hesitated at first, by the end of their conversation, he was committed.
He led the fitness classes every Saturday, and saw with pride that many of the patients in the home where becoming more mobile. One such patient was an 87-year-old former pastor named Aaron.
Though Aaron was on oxygen, his zeal for the Gospel kept him preaching a Bible study there every Sunday. Aaron asked Jim Hakes to help him by reading Scriptures aloud, which was becoming a strain on Aaron's lungs. Jim agreed, and began reading the Scriptures for Aaron every Sunday after having led the wheelchair exercises on Saturday.
Jim Hakes's hectic life would soon take a dramatic turn. His wife of 32 years and mother of their son decided to terminate their marriage.
"I was heartbroken," Jim confided.
The news came as a shock, and drained him of hope. He soon found himself, in the middle of the night, writing a suicide note on the computer in his office at work.
Amidst his heavy sorrow and growing desperation, a verse came to mind from the Bible studies he'd done with Aaron. It was Philippians 4:11, which unveils the secret to being content "in any and all circumstances." It was then that he cried out to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He could viscerally feel the Holy Spirit enter his body.
After Jim's salvation, the hand of God in his life was evident to him. He could see, for instance, that when Aaron was moved to a different nursing home, God was calling him to take over the Bible study completely.
As other patients in Arroyo Care were transferred, they requested that Jim come and lead studies in their new homes. Necessarily, he recruited friends to begin filling the gaps. It was in this way that God used the ministry to spread His Word to this underserved population.
Line to Eternal Life
Lifeline Ministries reaches in to those who cant reach out
In 2004, Lifeline had 69 salvations. So far in 2005, 23 people have given their hearts to Christ in Lifeline's ministry.
There are so many ways in which this anointed ministry can use your help. If you have a heart to help by doing room visitations or leading a Bible Study in one of the more than 30 convalescent homes Lifeline serves, please contact Pastor Jim Hakes at [email protected] or Ken Davis at [email protected].
Many small groups also seek weekly service opportunities to help them grow together, and there is nothing that will help your group grow more in appreciation for God's Word than doing a study or visitations for Lifeline Ministry.
But Pastor Jim reminds us that prayer is another important way to help. He prays for more volunteers-but not just that God would increase their numbers; he prays that God would increase their commitment and bring to the ministry people who take ownership of the Bible Studies and room visitations that they do. A weekly visit with prayer or Scripture reading from a warm, friendly volunteer is a welcome and vital change for those who are lonely and suffering.
Pastor Jim also prays for Lifeline's leader at the Rock, Ken Davis; that he would enjoy God's protection and be able to serve without distraction.
But most of all, Hakes prays for the residents of the homes in which the Lifeline ministers serve. He prays that each and every one of them would come to know and trust in Jesus in the midst of their suffering.
"This is no ordinary ministry," Hakes says," and we serve an extraordinary God."
Click here for more information about getting involved in the Lifeline Ministry.
* Names changed to protect patient privacy.
For more information about the Convalescent Home Ministry, click here »