Adults on Mission Blog

Senior VBS!

“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (Psalm 71:9 NIV). God values the elderly, and we should too! Is fun only for the young? Are all old people saved? What about having a Vacation Bible School (VBS) at an assisted living or retirement center?

If you’ve ever visited such a place, you know how well-received visitors are. Often, people are lonely. They are away from families and friends. They may feel discarded by society and unimportant. If adults partnered with youth to involve residents in fun, Gospel-centered activities, all could be tremendously blessed. The elderly can hear Bible stories, sing songs, do themed activities, and perhaps even come to faith in Christ.

Howdy, Neighbor!

Thermometer shows warmer temperatures. How’s the thermostat on your hospitality? Would your neighbors say you are prone to hibernate or do they see you now and then? To share Christ with others, we have to get out there! How can we form relationships with our neighbors to better witness to them? Here are a few ideas:

*Emerge from the den. Do a little something in the yard. Take more walks. Lollygag, doddle, and take your time. Smile, wave, strike up a conversation asking questions with more than one-word answers. Ask how someone is doing and wait for the response. Be purposeful about interacting, not just accomplishing your task.

*Offer help. Using the information you’ve learned from conversation, make a plan to take action. Rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor, run errands for someone recuperating from illness, welcome a newcomer with a treat. . . are all good ideas to share love in tangible ways.

Too Much Information!

You’re being real. You’re applying the message of James 5:16 and confessing sins to each other and praying for healing. Intimacy is vital to growth in a relationship. So, when does this become a problem? Here are a few things to consider before letting it all hang out:

*Use discretion. Not everything should be shared with everyone. Listen carefully before you speak. Pray for guidance on when to be quiet. Remember something you say could impact others negatively. Don’t inadvertently cause others to stumble.

*Know your audience. Proverbs 18:24 states, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin…” (NIV). If someone you know struggles with keeping confidences, don’t entrust them with sensitive information. Be friendly, but think before you speak.

*Seek out Godly advisors. Rather than going to those who will say what you want to hear, consider asking God for friends willing to sharpen you.

Be Real!

Genuine, bona fide, true. . . all key ingredients to relationships that matter. Being real with people can help us earn the opportunity to share the Gospel. So, how do we cultivate authenticity with those around us?

*Start with honesty. Find common ground without pretending to be something you’re not. Share strengths and struggles with humility, at appropriate times.

*Accept others. Refrain from judging people when they share things happening in their lives. Even if it’s not something you’ve encountered, try to acknowledge their feelings. When you need to share a differing opinion, respect their right to make their own decisions.

*Be trustworthy. Do what you say you’ll do. Make every effort to align your words with your actions. Keep confidences! Let others know if they confide in you, you will not share the information with others without permission (even disguised as a well-meaning prayer request.)

The Mission of Listening

Many times I find myself completing my 84 year old Mother’s sentences. Now she is more than capable of being able to speak the words and finish her sentences. But in my rush to move on in the conversation I complete her sentences or interrupt with the answer. It’s become a habit birthed out of my busyness. Justified? No! Rude? Yes! Additionally Scripture warns not to give an answer before one hears (Proverbs 18:13).

Mission opportunities occur everywhere. Around the globe and in my Mother’s home. What is God saying to my missions heart lately? Simply this: It’s time to develop the Ministry of Listening. The ministry of listening reflects patience, love, understanding, my relationship with Christ and the ability to truly hear. In this season of care giving I have the opportunity to share the love of Christ through listening.

No matter the age there is always a new mission which God is calling me to or making me aware of. You are never too old or too young to develop the Ministry of Listening. What about you?

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

Listening: A Relationship Builder

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is an old quote and it holds the key to building deep and lasting relationships. One of the ways we genuinely show we care is by listening.

Offering Biblical hospitality in my home and office has generated spontaneous moments to listen and to show I care. Over a cup of hot tea served with scones or coffee served with muffins, what has started out as a generalized conversation turns into my guest sharing their most deepest needs. Once a person knows you can be trusted and that you truly care; pretenses crumble and the foundation is laid for an authentic relationship.

Everyone needs someone to simply listen. It isn’t that you hold the answers or can solve the problems, but there is something therapeutic about being able to voice our ‘whatever’ to someone who will accept us as we are with a listening ear and heart. Who in your life that needs Biblical hospitality and a listening ear is God placing on your heart?

 

Are You Listening?

My toddler, positioned on my left hip, was jabbering away. Suddenly he realized I wasn’t listening. With his two chubby hands, placing one on each side of my face, he turned my head so it was positioned directly in front of his face. Happy that he now had my full attention, he continued to speak to me as if I understood every word. That scenario happened almost 38 years ago and I still find myself having a problem listening with my full attention.

Listening is something which does not come naturally to us. In our selfishness we talk first and listen lastly. Listening is a skill, an art. It means consciously making the effort to listen with our mind and hearts, being intentional and disciplining ourselves to learn the skill. Listening involves all of you. It is eye to eye contact with full attention devoted to the person who is sharing.

Over the years God has placed women in my life who have listened in that way. Ears attuned to my joys, sorrows, problems, and giving me their undivided attention. They have listened, prayed and invested in my walk with Christ. Are you that kind of listening friend?

His Schedule

Reading the church newsletter, Brenda sighed. In addition to the usual activities, a baby shower, a workday, a preview of the upcoming Easter music, and a new ladies’ Bible study were scheduled.

“Lord, with work and family responsibilities, how can I do all this?” she moaned. Gently, she sensed the Lord saying, “Let me, not the church calendar, plan your schedule.”

Brenda had been considering a local service project that could use her skills and provide interaction with unbelievers. Realizing God was leading her to revamp her schedule, she decided to bow out of choir, skip the workday, and forgo the Bible study.

When she received some critical remarks for lessening her church involvement, she lovingly explained her actions. With freed-up time, she began kingdom-building relationships in her community.

By Ann Maniscalco

 

 

 

 

Get Plugged In

Arriving in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, NAMB church planter Jay Parks knew building relationships was vital to building New Life Church. When his son got involved in soccer, Jay attended practices and games, looking to “plug in where families already were,” he says. He soon began coaching, and after a year-and-a-half, he has met many families through it.

Jay and his wife April also committed to engage two families a week by inviting them to dinner, hosting over 100 families so far.

“This shifts a focus from just inviting them to church to simply trying to get to know them,” he affirms.

The soccer field and the Parks’ dinner table have brought many into the fledgling congregation. “Building relationships is so important when trying to reach people with the gospel,” Jay emphasizes.

(You can read more about the Parks’ story at www.newlifekona.com.)


By Ann Maniscalco

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