Australia, like many countries, has a growing population of older people. Some elderly ones move into nursing homes, where staff members kindly assist them with their health-care and daily needs.
Of course, many nursing-home residents need more than just physical assistance. They may sometimes feel bored, lonely, or even helpless. Jehovah’s Witnesses bring hope and comfort when they make weekly visits to two aged-care facilities in Portland, a town in Victoria, Australia.
Bible Discussions Tailored for Nursing Homes
Local Witnesses meet with a group of residents and discuss Bible topics, such as noteworthy events in Jesus’ life. “We read the passage from the Bible with the older ones,” says Jason, “and then we discuss the account with them.” Since many of the attendees struggle with health problems, the Witnesses also give them hope and encouragement by discussing God’s promise to do away with sickness and death.
“We started off with half-hour visits, but the residents wanted them extended,” relates Tony, a local Witness. “So now the discussions last about an hour, although one resident said she would like them to go for two hours!” Since some of the older ones are blind, bedridden, or unable to hold objects, the Witnesses assist them throughout the discussions and encourage them to participate as much as possible.
As part of the visit, the Witnesses and residents sing a few songs of praise to God, and the elderly often ask for more. John, * one of the residents, said: “We love the music you bring. It helps us to understand and respect God.” Judith, a resident who is blind, has memorized all the lyrics to her favorite songs!
The Witnesses are interested in the welfare of each older one. A volunteer named Brian says that if the residents are not well, the Witnesses visit them in their rooms. “We chat with them and see how they are feeling. Sometimes we come back on another day to see how the sick person is getting along.”
“God Has Sent You People to Us”
Many nursing-home residents cherish the visits. Peter, who attends the discussion each week, says: “I can’t wait to get there.” Judith tells her caregiving staff: “It’s Wednesday! Please get me ready for the Bible study group. I don’t want to be late!”
The older ones enjoy what they are learning, and they feel closer to God than ever. After discussing one of Jesus’ teachings, Robert said: “I had never understood this passage in the Bible. Now I do!” David has learned how important it is to pray, and states: “It has helped me form a relationship with God and has made him real to me.”
The residents are excited to learn about the Bible’s hope for the future. “Thank you for bringing us such comfort from the Bible,” a resident named Lynette told the Witnesses. Another resident stated: “God has sent you people to us!”
Margaret has enjoyed the visits so much that she now regularly attends meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the local Kingdom Hall. This is a huge effort for her because of her health and limited mobility. She told the Witnesses: “You have given all of us something to live for.”
‘You Are Doing a Wonderful Thing’
Staff members also appreciate the visits of the Witnesses. Anna, a local Witness, relates: “The staff encourage the residents to come to the discussions because they notice that the elderly seem a lot happier afterward.” Brian, quoted earlier, adds: “The staff members are friendly and cooperative. They go out of their way to help.”
The residents’ families are pleased to see how much their loved ones enjoy the discussions. The daughter of one elderly resident commended the Witnesses, saying: “This is a wonderful thing you are doing for my mum.”
^ par. 7 The names of the nursing home residents have been changed.