“According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour, or family member.” – NHS
Loneliness can lead to depression and a serious decline in mental and physical wellbeing. That’s one of the reasons why at Faith in Later Life we are working hard to connect and serve the older people in our communities, through growing and mobilising our network of Church Champions- who are amazing! And of course ultimately we want to introduce older people to Jesus.
Our good friend (and Church Champion) Mavis shares God’s heart for the lonely and is faithfully obeying God’s calling on her heart to serve the older people in care homes and on hospital wards, so that everyone can know God.
We recently had the privilege of speaking to Mavis about her experiences and she shared with us how, by being obedient to God’s calling, she is seeing Him break into the loneliest of hearts and set people free.
The first story Mavis shared with us was one that she will never forget. On a visit to a care home, she went into the day room to lead her music session as normal. When she arrived, there was a new resident in the care home who Mavis had not met. The woman was very elderly and all she did was sit and stare out of the window.
Despite this, Mavis felt prompted by God to sit with her and so, she went over and began gently stroking her arm. When the care workers saw this, they quietly told Mavis that there wasn’t much point because the lady was non-verbal, but Mavis said she didn’t mind, she just wanted to sit with her.
As she sat with this woman, Mavis began to sign the well-loved song, ‘what a friend we have in Jesus’. Suddenly, the woman turned and rested her head on Mavis’ shoulder.
Then she started to sing.
Hearing the singing, the care worker came over, crying in disbelief, and asked what had happened.
Mavis simply replied: “It’s Jesus.”
Isn’t the mercy of God just overwhelming? What a friend, indeed! God says to all of his people, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 25:20
Mavis, like many of us, has felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit many times. Once, when she was visiting the hospital wards, she caught sight of a lady in the corner bed. The lady was alone, but when she saw Mavis, she smiled.
In that moment, even though she was late to be somewhere else, something meant she could not pass this woman by.
So, she went over and introduced herself. Completely unprompted, the woman shared how “as a child, I was buried three times in the Blitz. And do you know the worst? The worst was the sense that I was buried. It was silent. And I didn’t know if anybody even knew that I was there. Who would come to look for me? I cannot describe the overwhelming sense of loneliness. The feeling of being completely alone.”
Mavis replied, “but you were not alone. God said He would never leave or forsake you. Not once did God take His eyes off you. God directed people to look for you three times. That is how important you are to Him!”
They prayed together and then when Mavis turned to go, the woman said to her, “I am married, I have children and grandchildren, and I have never told anyone that story. I have carried that sense of loneliness and abandon until now.”
Mavis told us, “I don’t know where she is now, but I know she left that hospital free from those feelings because God broke in.”
Romans 8:39 reminds us that, “Neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How wonderful that whether we are buried under the rubble of life or literal rubble, we are never truly alone, for God is with us and He will set us free.
Because Mavis was obedient to God’s voice and she stroked the arm of the non-verbal lady and went and spoke to the woman who felt alone, God broke in, He redeemed, and He healed.
Mavis shared how over 4,000 people in care homes won’t go to eternity because the church didn’t catch the vision of God’s love for older people. It is a call of accountability to us all. We each have a responsibility to reach people, regardless of their age or ability.
How is God calling you to act today?
We often expect God to speak in a loud booming voice, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes He speaks in small ways like a tug at your heartstrings and often, as Mavis shared above, it isn’t always convenient. We might have other things we need to do today, but when we obey God’s calling, we get to see Him work wonders.
What an incredible thing to play a part in God’s mission to reach His people.
Maybe all God is asking of you is to call a relative you haven’t spoken to for a long time, send an email to a long-lost friend, or sign up to be part of a community committed to helping those in need.
If you feel moved to help those who feel alone in this world, but you don’t know where to start, send us an email. We would love to help! And if you have a story of encouragement to share, just like those above, of God breaking into impossible situations and transforming people’s lives, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Let’s work together and help people understand that, with God we are never truly alone.