We have been praying and meditating on the implications of the imminent demographic expansion in long-term care that is just beginning to hit the shores of our mission field. All of us by now are well aware of the reality of the baby-boomer effect on populations in our local care centers and nursing homes that will keep cresting for many years to come. It is not just that the wind is changing or picking up, but a huge storm is looming and the first bank of dark clouds are in sight!
Every sailor knows - a drastic change in weather conditions require drastic adjustments to the sails. As they say over the loud speakers on Navy ships, "Now haul over all hatches and gun covers!" When sailors hear that announcement, no matter where they are on the ship, they know this is the end of business as usual, things are gonna start rocking and rolling! It may be that we all would do well to consider what changes our Captain would call upon us to make as we prepare for the coming storm.
For certain, public policy makers and fiscal minded politicians are fully informed on this issue. The current economic crisis could not come at a worse time for the newcomers who will need long-term care. Rank and file facility employees are underpaid now. Medicare and Medicaid are on the radar screen in the budget-cutting committees of many state legislatures (if not all). Top quality "Mom and Pop" nursing homes are being bought up by conglomerates and distant corporations whose well-meaning rhetoric about quality care could be undermined by their accounting department. Even if there was no money problem at all, there may not be enough employable people in the manpower pool of the Country to adequately tend to the increasing numbers of frail elderly.
These thoughts are not intended to be a call to panic: the Captain will take care of His charge. Though struggles await both crew and passengers (missionaries and residents), the Plan of the Day will NEVER be "Abandon Ship!" It is just that, as representatives of local, regional and national care center ministries, we stand broadside in the path of this tsunami.
Why are we here, in this ministry, at this time? Do you think it would please Jesus Christ for us to be, on some level, in relationship with each other as long-term care center ministers? Do your think our labors on behalf of those the Lord has sent us to minister to would be strengthened if we found ways we could work together and compliment each other? Do you think we could better impact Christian education, Christian media, and Denominational leadership if we combined our voice?
As we said, we have been praying about this issue for some time. It is apparent to us, that the heart of God's response to the needs of residents in nursing homes is the army of thousands of Christian volunteers who labor quietly, faithfully, sacrificially, freely to be the human face of Christ's love to hurting and forsaken residents all over this country and beyond.
We are convinced that it would honor the Lord and further His work in this mission field if there were an annual national convention called to bless Christian volunteer care center ministers. In the course of planning, conducting and reacting to such a meeting, there are many aspects of our individual nursing home ministries that could be enhanced; the very ethos of long-term care could be improved; initiatives we have been dreaming about could become reality; policies and focus of Christian leaders and government officials could be affected!
Please pray about this and contact us with your ideas on this initiative. Stay tuned.
With love from our heart to yours, sincerely:
Jerry and Dar Johnson,
Christian Concourse Ministry, Inc.