Ohio Ministry to Senior Adults Offers Far More Than Pleasantries
By Kim Ousley
Serving the homeless in their local area, Bonnie Bowles and her husband Joe started a nonprofit ministry called Walking with Christ. Over time, many other organizations were doing the same thing. So, they prayed and explored other viable options as to where they could minister and be a blessing to people in their community. One thing led to the next.
The couple attends Pleasant Chapel Church of God in Lancaster, Ohio. In the past year, they were able to combine efforts with Pastor Paul and others in the congregation to do a Sunday afternoon service at a local assisted living facility. “We do a lot of different outreaches, and the senior project is one of the outreaches we do,” said Bowles. “We started asking local chapels to help us with ministering to the seniors and Pleasant Chapel came on board.”
When asked what her title was, she laughed and said she didn’t know. “I suppose I organize everything, so I must be a leader!”
Five years ago, they started passing out food and clothing to homeless. Once that effort ran its course, they eventually sought out other ways to help. Along with the senior ministry, Bowles and her husband also give “blessing bags” to cancer patients at the hospital.
“We fill the bags with things they normally wouldn’t get elsewhere.” Some of those items include gum, candy, Gideon Bibles, colored pencils, and puzzle books. The local fire department gives them blankets. Bowles also shares that she felt it was important to include a card sharing that the person receiving the blessing bag was being prayed for, and thought of, while they were on their journey. She includes a business card in case anyone just needs someone to talk to and pray with them.
At the nursing home, she makes sure every single person gets a Christmas gift during the holiday. There’s so many of them that don’t have visitors or family to visit with them. Getting that one gift means they weren’t forgotten.”
The church recently started what is called the Celebration Choir. Bowles said she prints out song books so the seniors can enjoy singing along with the choir. After the singing and the pastor’s message, she shared they pass out little bags of chips and small cans of pop, at the request of the seniors, and they enjoy chatting with them for a while.
Before going to the nursing home, Bowles always serves a lunch to those going out there. She has to always call ahead and make sure the nurses know they are coming; if they forget and put folks down for a nap, they will get upset if they miss the service!
“Many of the patients say, ‘Oh, you’re such a blessing,’ but if they were in my shoes they would know how much of an honor and blessing it is to serve them,” said Bowles. “I enjoy going out there and doing it.”
Kim Ousley is a freelance writer from Anderson, Indiana.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Nursing home visit by Pleasant Chapel.