Dennis Wilkins was raised in Arkansas and graduated from Ouachita Baptist University. He pursued a business career rising to the level of Corporate Vice President in two national home building companies. Dennis answered a call to the pastorate where he served 12 years as the pastor of First Baptist Church Bluffton, South Carolina. Upon retirement and his return to Arkansas, Dennis served churches as pulpit supply and served five years as Associational Missionary to North Pulaski Baptist Association. Currently he is serving as a deacon at Zion Hill Baptist Church and lives west of Cabot, Arkansas with Marsha, his wife of 56 years.
In the first article of this series, I mentioned a passage of Scripture that has had a strong influence over me for many years. The passage is from Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ…Let us not lose heart in doing good… let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith,” (Galatians 6: 2, 9a, 10b).
As you pursue initiating the ministry of Caring for the Care Giver, there will be ups and downs. Some supporters will back out, and sometimes they will miss their minimum number of contacts. Caregivers will tell you, “We don’t need any help” when, in fact they do.
As in anything we do, there is always something that will go wrong. That is okay if you prepare for it. So, always anticipate the worst and plan to minimize its impact. If the worst happens you are prepared and if it does not happen you are ahead of the game.
Rather than focus on the possible negative issues, you are encouraged to focus on two things. First, on the positive impact this ministry has on those you are serving and secondly, focus on the fact that you are being obedient to the leadership of Jesus Christ.
As in any endeavor you should seek feedback to make sure the ministry is moving in the direction intended. This ministry has one central goal and that is to “bear one another’s burdens…doing good for all people.” This is done by supporting and encouraging caregivers through prayer and with various acts of assistance.
Caregivers’ feedback will lean to the positive and is encouraging to the supporters. For example, Linda, one of our early caregivers said, “I could not have gotten through my husband’s bout with cancer except for the prayers of the caregiver supporters, and now I need more prayer as I take care of my 87-year-old mother.”
Others have been appreciative of the attention they have received, such as having their lawn mowed, phone calls, cards, and notes of encouragement, as well as personal visits. The caregivers are thankful for having someone they can depend on for encouragement.
As one caregiver said, “Caring for my wife is the most lonesome I have ever been, so it is good to know that someone cares for me and is willing to share my grief.”
Another said, “I can’t watch my husband and do chores outside of my house, it is good to know that I can ask for someone to mow my yard and it will be done.”
And yet another said, “It is good to have someone to talk to.” Others have commented on the encouragement they receive through the phone calls, cards, and visits they receive from the supporters each month.
As the ministry progresses you will learn that every situation is different. Some families are self-sufficient and have support from local family and friends, while others are alone with little or no support at all. It is incumbent on the supporters to bring those situations to the monthly meetings and tell how they addressed a particular issue or seek advice from the group as to how to handle a situation.
The benefit of sharing and giving feedback at regular meetings does several things. Some of those benefits are mentioned below.
First, having regular meetings encourages the supporters. It lets them know that what they are doing is making a difference in people’s lives. It encourages them to keep up the good work. In other words, it strengthens them so they, “do not lose heart.”
Second, the meetings allow the supporters an opportunity to describe a situation they have encountered and seek advice from others who may have had success with the same or a similar issue.
Third, it allows the team to update their own as well as the church’s prayer list.
Fourth, the meetings should be a reminder that the supporters are fulfilling the biblical mandate discussed earlier. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ…Let us not lose heart in doing good… let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith,” (Galatians 6: 2, 9a, 10b).
If you have a question do not hesitate to call Dennis Wilkins, 501-259-8197.