USA (MNN) – Often times as people grow old and sickness or disability strikes, their world becomes much smaller. They sometimes become confined to their home, which brings on loneliness. Even if they have a caregiver, every day is still a struggle.
That’s one of the issues Life Matters Worldwide is addressing through its LIFT program. Life Matters, a ministry dedicated to spreading the biblical message about the sanctity of human life, understands the physical and emotional issues facing people at the end of life, and also how important it is for the body of Christ to be there for them.
“LIFT is a ministry for the local church,” Life Matters president Tom Lothamer says. “It’s, ‘Living in Faith Together,’ and basically, it’s a ministry of the body of Christ ministering to those in their communities who are chronically and terminally ill, or have other serious illnesses. It’s the body, the church, taking responsibility to minister to those people and their caregivers.”
One key facet of LIFT is the entire body of believers’ involvement in caring for the elderly. Though there are government programs that serve these people, Lothamer says Christians have an obligation to step up as well.
“As we look through the scriptures, Old Testament and New Testament, God’s command to us is to take care of the elderly, the widow, the orphan, those who are in great need,” Lothamer says. “So it makes sense that no matter what’s happening in the community, as far as those agencies, which we’re thankful for, what about the church actually ministering in this way, and then even outside their church community for people who do not attend church and have this situation with a chronic or terminal illness?…”
There are currently 15-20 churches utilizing LIFT. Lothamer says the goal is to expand globally and use the program as an opportunity for missionaries.
“Now we’re developing a strategy of how now we’re going to take this even across the world, because we’re doing work similar to this in Togo, West Africa; and the Philippines,” Lothamer says.
“You have situations, for example, in the Philippines, where it’s kind of in their DNA for the younger to take care of the elderly, but they have a certain situation happening where some of the younger people are going to other countries to make a living, sending money back, but they’re not there. So we have one particular partner in ministry…who, and others with her, are actually developing LIFT ministries in the local churches to care for the people, and not only in the churches, but in the communities.”
As churches go about caring for the elderly, Lothamer wants to remind pastors that it’s not only something good to do, but that scripture obligates us to do it. And it’s a responsibility for everyone in the congregation, not just the pastor or deacons.
“I would just say to the pastors out there that often times, when we have this type of situation inside the church, It’s all the way from ,’Well that’s the pastor’s responsibility,’ or, ‘That’s the deacons’ responsibility,'” Lothamer says. “But it really is the congregation’s responsibility, and we rob our people of blessing when we don’t put that focus on it.”
Interested in how you can implement LIFT in your own church? Click here to learn more.