I have shared before that I am a chaplain in care centers, assisted living residences and retirement communities. I have served as a Hospice chaplain and I also minister to people in adult foster homes and private homes. On my sidebar you will see part of my chaplain badge and notice that I minister through Love Your Neighbor Ministries, an organization of chaplains in healthcare settings.
This evening I will be part of the team who will share our ministry at a banquet. I’ve been part of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ group of people who have put all the details together. I was asked to be in charge of all the music and that was a simple task for me. Music is an important part of my life and ministry. And I have the privilege of joining two other chaplains to share a bit about our ministries.
Not long after I became a chaplain, the director of Love Your Neighbor Ministries asked me to write an article for the newsletter, sharing how I became a chaplain. Today I want to share that article with you.
Following In My Father’s Footsteps
When I was a little girl I often tried to walk in my father’s footsteps. His footprints seemed very large and so far apart as I jumped from one to another in the snow. Hard as I tried I could never take such big steps! Years later as a young adult I realized that I had finally grown tall enough to walk in his footsteps.
Over three years ago [now eight] my father went to be with the Lord after nearly sixty years of ministry. My dad, Jim Thompson, was a chaplain with Love Your Neighbor Ministries for the last eighteen years of his life. Before he became a chaplain my mother, Carol, served as secretary to Dwight Kinman, founder of Love Your Neighbor Ministries. As I learned of the needs of people in healthcare settings I was deeply moved by the loneliness and abandonment of many elderly people in nursing homes. At times I joined Dad in his ministry, often during the holidays. It was a special treat for me to go with him and play the piano and sing.
Several years ago I began typing Dad’s ministry newsletter. At first it was a special way I could be part of his ministry – I was glad to help, but through the years I began to notice a change in me. As I typed the newsletter I wondered, ‘Who will minister to these precious people when Dad can no longer do it?’ I prayed that God would prepare someone to meet the need when Dad could not be there. My thoughts continued to change and one day I found myself saying, ‘Oh, Lord, I wish I could fill the empty place that will be left when Dad is not there.’ It seemed like an impossibility – I am not a preacher like my dad; I do not teach Bible Studies like he did; I have a different personality; I had to work fulltime; there’s no way it could happen!
A few months before God took Dad home to Heaven I read new statistics about the elderly in our world and predictions of future growth of the older population. I read how churches can minister to the needs of the elderly but I realized that the needs are not being met. I began to sense a deep desire to minister to the elderly, to shut-ins, to people in healthcare crises and those with illnesses that confine them at home for long periods of time. As I watched my parents deal with health issues that kept them at home for many weeks, sometimes months, I noticed after a short time that people stopped calling, sending cards and letters or coming to visit them. I became aware of the loneliness and the feeling of isolation that can accompany times of illness.
God has blessed me with a ministry of music and has given me many opportunities to play and sing in my church and other places. I began to sense that God had something else for me to do with my music gifts. As I asked Him to show me what He wanted me to do, I became aware that He was leading me to play and sing for the elderly and people in difficult health situations. During Dad’s last week with us I had the privilege to sit beside him and sing the old hymns he loved so much. That experience changed my life! I sensed God calling me to minister in music to people in similar situations. Not long ago God opened the door for me to follow His leading into that ministry.
One day as I shared God’s leading in my life with Dave Compton, Director of Love Your Neighbor Ministries, he told me about an area that had no chaplain – when he described the area I realized it was where Dad served as chaplain. He challenged me to consider the possibility of filling that vacancy. When I told him that I am not a preacher like my dad, or a Bible Study teacher, he replied. ‘You don’t have to fill your father’s shoes but you can follow in his footsteps! That is what God has led me to do. I left my fulltime job in the business world to begin a new ministry, serving the Lord with music that touches the hearts of the listeners and draws them to the Savior. Once again I will follow my father’s footsteps – not only those of my earthly father but the footsteps of my Heavenly Father who goes ahead of me and leads me one step at a time.
(Now each week you will find me leading Bible Studies, singing the old hymns with the dear folks in care centers and assisted living facilities, praying and visiting with them. They have become so precious to me – they are friends I may never have known if I had not followed in my father’s footsteps!)
That is so awesome! I have worked with the Seniors and disabled for over twelve years now. I have been doing hair in the assisted living home now for over three years. I go into Adult Foster care homes and do hair and to those shut in. It is amazing to be to see how they lightup and sit a bit taller with a bright eyeed smile when I am done A little love and tnder lvng touch with some enhancement to the beauty God has already graced them with. Their spirits are lifted and I feel I was given a million for just being in their prence.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing yur beautiful story about yur minstry.
I love your blog. I feel such love and peace here
Tears.....Oh, I am so touched by this. My Dad was in ministry as well. A Pastor for many years, we sang together in a group that went to churches, finally the director of a Christian radio station. How thankful I am for our fathers who led by example and allowed us to see Christ working through them that we might pick up the torch now that they are enjoying the presence of their Lord and Savior.ReplyDelete
I am rejoicing with you that God allowed you to follow in your Daddy's footsteps. Beautiful!
What a sweet post...and how perfectly did god prepare you for this work. Amazing, really.ReplyDelete
THANKS for the sweet words about my grandbabies!
Adrienne, you have a beautiful ministry, and it is SOOOOO needed. God put your gifts to just the right use. I really enjoyed reading the story of how it came to be. Your father would be so blessed! I'd say both your fathers are beaming.ReplyDelete
I love this story. Oh what a blessing you are to so many!ReplyDelete
I love that thought Adrienne - don't fill his footsteps, but follow in them. I'm going to remember that one. :) blessings, marleneReplyDelete
God bless you for the work that you do!ReplyDelete
How lovely! My father didn't lead a life I would have wanted, so I always love hearing those stories of father's that set a good example and children would want to follow in their footsteps.ReplyDelete
Adrienne, this story is so beautiful and so true. The elderly need ministries such as this and it is wonderful to know that there are caring people who are there for them:>)ReplyDelete
What a sweet story, thanks for sharing it with us! You are doing exactly what the Lord wants us to do!ReplyDelete