The Friendship Ministry was born over the holidays during the Covid-19 pandemic this past year. We found that people who had been taking our Senior Bridge Courses in their senior communities before the pandemic hit us were having problems. In an effort to keep them safe from the virus, their socialization opportunities had become scarce or nil. They were not able to visit each other in their rooms or in the common areas of their buildings. In some cases, families were hesitant to visit for fear of infecting their loved ones, and in other cases, families were only able to visit them outside of the buildings. In one home, they could visit only through a glass window.
The Senior Bridge Team was able to stay in contact with some of them and sensed they were feeling lonely, fearful, and sequestered. Some became sick; some became withdrawn. So we wanted to remind them that they were loved and mattered to us, and more importantly, to God.
We made little gift bags and had them delivered to their rooms during the Thanksgiving Holiday. They were so appreciative and told us how much their spirits had been lifted. For the Christmas holiday, we made more gift bags, and this time added personal notes written by members of the team. Every team member was assigned a senior to call over the holidays to be a friendship companion to them. We listened and prayed with them about their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. We offered them encouragement and friendship. Today, many team members are still calling their senior companions on the phone, still listening and encouraging them once or twice a month.
One of the verses we like to use is Isaiah 41:13: For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” It reminds them that God does not want them to be fearful and promises to help them.
My hope is this ministry will continue to grow and bless the people we are serving. It is such a joy for me to see how God also blesses the people who are administering the lovely acts of kindness through serving these dear people.