OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries
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Lessons Learned from Nursing Home Ministry

by Daniel Bausch and Gerald Sisto

For more than twelve years, Calvary OPC in Ringoes, New Jersey, has had a monthly ministry at a local long-term care facility, otherwise known as a nursing home. This ministry is small, it is ordinary, and it has produced limited visible fruit. Yet, the Lord has used it to encourage and bless individuals outside the church doors in meaningful ways. Our hope in this article is to share how the Lord may use a nursing home ministry in proclaiming the gospel of Christ and to offer some practical suggestions for congregations who are either considering or engaging in a ministry like this.

Need and Opportunity

According to the CDC, there are more than fifteen thousand nursing homes and twenty-eight thousand residential care communities in the United States. These facilities vary widely in size, cost, quality, and safety. When you read “nursing home,” a few connotations likely come to your mind. You might think of people with chronic medical needs requiring continuous care to function, you might imagine seniors watching television all day, or you might recall painful memories of seeing your own loved one suffer. Few of us primarily think of nursing homes as places in our community where our neighbors live, where Christ’s children continue to serve in his kingdom, and where gospel opportunity is abounding.

Why focus on a ministry like this when there are so many other worthy ministries a church can pursue? Here are three reasons to consider.

First, because God cares for the elderly and those who experience affliction. “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4). God does not neglect, discard, or disuse the elderly or persons with disabilities. He promises that his children “still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green” (Psalm 92:14). Second, as part of the Great Commission, Christ calls us to share the good news with all in our society—the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the free, and the institutionalized. Finally, many nursing home facilities are regularly seeking volunteers to provide “activities” for residents, opening the door for faithful Christian ministry where none may exist.

Ministry Approach

At Calvary, our nursing home ministry began with simple outreach to a local facility to see if there was a need for a church ministry. That contact led to a monthly visit, which occurs between our fellowship meal and our evening service.

Our typical visit is usually attended by five church members and lasts for one hour. We begin by singing a few popular hymns from the Trinity Psalter Hymnal, with the hymns available in large, easy-to-read print. Our team includes those who play the piano or flute to accompany the singing.

After singing, we present a simple, ten-minute message from Scripture. The message always includes our state of misery due to sin, our deliverance through Christ’s death and resurrection, the invitation to belief by faith, and encouragement to live in Christ. After the message, we close with prayer, final hymns, and time spent engaging one-on-one with each participant. These conversations are an opportunity to build relationships and learn about needs. The Lord has used this time to bring about wonderful gospel conversations, tearful prayers, and precious moments of comforting those undergoing loss and affliction.

Lessons Learned

Our nursing home ministry has had both highs and lows over the years. Here are some lessons we have learned.

1. Focus on the gospel essentials. The time you have with residents and nursing home staff is limited and precious. Present Christ and his gospel (not you and your nice church) through Scripture, teaching, song, and conversation.

2. Keep your teaching short and clear. To best serve your audience, limit your messages to a few minutes in length. This is not the time to practice full sermons or to have a detailed Bible study. Remember to speak loudly, use familiar passages, and avoid jargon.

3. Engage and respect all residents and staff. Each resident should be treated with dignity. Make sure to speak individually to each person in attendance (even if they can’t speak to you), listen when they express a desire to leave or need assistance, and adhere to the facility’s rules and regulations.

4. Be open to adjustments. Changes in plans, new facility requirements, and frequent disruptions are very common. Remember to be patient and to accept changes based on resident or facility needs.

5. Stay accountable. As with any ministry of the church, it is critical to have the oversight and wisdom of the session. One or more ordained leaders should be actively involved in the ministry.

6. Trust in the Lord. It is easy to grow discouraged with nursing home ministry. Remember that the Lord uses weak means to bring about his purpose, and his word does not return void (Isa. 55:11).

7. Share updates with your congregations. It can often feel like there is little news to share with your brothers and sisters. However, failing to share updates deprives your congregation of the privilege of participating through prayer and encouragement. This is the entire congregation’s ministry; share regularly and invite others to come and participate.

8. Be in prayer. Remember to pray for any Christians who attend your ministry, asking the Lord to encourage them and to use them. Pray for those who are not followers of Christ, that the Lord would change hearts so that many might turn and be saved. Pray also for the staff of the facility, that they would know Christ and care for the residents well.

It is glorious to see the Lord work through a simple nursing home ministry. We hope you might consider the value and opportunity such a ministry can be for you and your congregation.

Daniel Bausch is a deacon, and Gerald Sisto an elder, at Calvary OPC in Ringoes, New Jersey.
This article originally appeared in the December issue of New Horizons.


ESL Evangelism

by Zecharias Weldeyesus, Pastor, Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Atlanta

People who have come to the United States as refugees with no ability to speak or write English would always tell you how much they appreciate believers in a local church who taught them English in their early days here in America. But more important, they would also tell you how grateful to the Lord they are for using those men and women to show them the love of Christ and point them to the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to inherit eternal life by faith in Him alone. 

That’s why involvement of the local church in teaching ESL (English as a second language) is such an effective way of sharing Christ and His saving work with refugees whom the Lord brings to the church–although, of course, it is subordinate to the preaching of the word of God as the primary means that the Holy Spirit uses to convict and convert sinners. 

ESL classes offered by a gospel-saturated and witnessing church uses volunteer teachers in building up friendship and trust with refugees, not only by teaching them English, but also by showing them the love of Christ as refugees share their burdens, by praying for and with them during every class, by sharing the good news of salvation through Christ with them, and ultimately by drawing them into the worship of God and the ordinary means of grace in Christ’s church. ESL also serves as an efficient tool for the evangelist of the local church to use to advance Bible studies with refugees and to help build a foundation toward planting a sound and worshiping church of all nations. 

Please pray that our church’s ESL evangelism classes would bear much fruit for the Kingdom as our evangelist, Pastor Melaku, calls refugees to repentance and faith through the preaching and teaching of God’s word and as our volunteer ESL teachers show the love of Christ to the refugees under the care of Redeemer Mercy Ministry in Clarkston.     

This article was taken from Redeemer Mercy Ministry’s October 2022 newsletter, with permission. You can find their entire issue, including more about ESL, here. Photo: Dr. Martha Wright with prospective learners from Redeemer OPC. She met with them twice at Refuge Coffee Company in Clarkston to assess their needs, skill levels, and concerns.


Crates for Ukraine Update


The Beard family from New Hope Christian Fellowship in Elizabeth City, North Carolina reached out to the OPC Refugee Ministry Subcommittee for financial support as they planned to participate in the PCA’s “Crates for Ukraine” program. The family has dear friends in L’viv, MTW missionaries, who have been serving for several years.


Aimee Beard was excited to have a way to help, “Finally, there was something tangible we could do to help our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Knowing the need was urgent, I started reaching out to local churches and friends in our community and the help began to pour in. Many were happy to help and especially so because several know [our family friends] personally. A handful of pharmacies and private physicians allowed us to purchase items at cost through them. We have a friend at Harbor Presbyterian (a supporting church) who is a paramedic and he reached out to the county to see if they could help. The county also allowed us to order medical/wound care items at cost through them. The process has truly been a beautiful thing to witness.”


“My initial goal was twenty crates. That was before all the support started to come in. We have already filled 70 crates, but I am expecting we will reach 80 by the time our last round of couriers leaves. Incredible! God is so good. It is amazing what He can do with a simple, ‘yes!’ We have a total of nine couriers who have all registered and purchased airline tickets.”


Aimee’s daughter, Callie, expressed interest in accompanying the team to Krakow after a family friend had to bow out of the trip, and more volunteers were needed. The OPC Refugee Ministry subcommittee considered this request and, in the end, were glad to be able to pay the remaining cost of an airline ticket for Callie at the cost of $1701.00. Thank you to all of those who donated to the Ukraine Crisis Fund and enabled this young woman to be able to participate in this important program.


An email from Aimee after their trip spoke of the success of their trip, “All crates made it to Krakow. Our final courier team arrived Wednesday with all 47 of their crates. All together there were 92 crates that were sent over from our community here in Northeast North Carolina. Praise the Lord for his faithfulness and blessings. He had his hand in every part of this entire mission. So many moving parts and details that only He could orchestrate. It is amazing what He will do with a simple yes.”


“We saw the warehouse where all the crates are stored until the team drives them to L’viv. The Ukrainian/Polish/English church service on Sunday was neat. It was great to see our friends from L’viv and the rest of the team. You can tell they are tired and are looking forward to a time to rest and reassess the situation before winter.”


Crates for Ukraine was an initiative started by the MTW L’viv Team in June of this year to address the war time aid needs of Ukraine. MTW (PCA) took the initiative in this effort and invited the OPC to join in their efforts. The OPC was privileged to be involved in this way.

Crates’ mission was simple: The Ukrainian Church and their national partners desired to provide personal and humanitarian aid from the hands of churches in the U.S. to the hands of churches and displaced communities in Ukraine. Churches, communities, or families were invited to pack a crate and send it to Ukraine via Krakow, Poland.

The Ukraine church in L’viv received and is processing these crates and sending them to the neediest communities and churches of Ukraine. MTW was able to utilize the 15 churches throughout Ukraine to network and resource the needy communities. 

Here is the latest data on the Crates for Ukraine initiative.


A few quick facts:


  • 1,315 crates were delivered to Krakow.
  • 186 Couriers brought aid.
  • Over 250 churches participated from over 100 cities and 21 states. 
  • 15 churches in Ukraine received/processed aid.
  • Over 115 locations have received aid or have in turn become aid distribution points.
  • Aid processing continues to reach the most needy and vulnerable.
  • 100 crates went to newly liberated villages (Lzyum and Kharkiv region) and our partner churches.
  • This Ukraine Aid Map will be updated weekly with more detailed delivery information. 


Many have asked about future aid initiatives. A possible “Crates for Christmas” initiative is in the works. We will update as information about that become available.


You can find out more about the efforts to help in Ukraine by listening to The Reformed Deacon episode where David Nakhla interviews MTW’s Ukraine Country Director, Jon Eide, and by reading the September 15 issue of the “Crates for Ukraine Update” from the PCA’s Mission to the World.