It may feel a bit overwhelming caring for a loved one since things have changed. Our loved ones are losing the ability to care for themselves and we are in a whirlwind of obligations to family with busy lives. We wonder what am I really dealing with and going? Change is not easy and we discover, “this might be harder than I thought”. The Christian Caregiver Support Ministry is a safe place to receive helpful guidance to focus your mind and attitude in the Christian's calling to be a caregiver.
The Christian Caregiver, a fellowship of support, is a ministry that began at Christ Lutheran Church in January 2013. We encourage caregivers to look to Jesus as our primary shepherd in their calling to care for a loved one. We are learning to see Jesus at work in and through our service. While we may find our task difficult, we accept this time as “God’s calling”
This ministry is now expanding to other churches. Overland Park Christian Church now has a similar Christian Caregiver Support Group (see Caregiver Events). To begin a Christian Caregiver Support Group You in your church you are invited to join this movement of ministry to provide Christian care for caregivers
Christian Caregiver Ministry Story
Both my parents had been very independent but as they entered their 90’s and their self care became more difficult, we joked that it took two of them to do the work of one person. They had home health care assisting them and I was a long distance caregiver. We talked for a couple of years about moving into a facility for greater care, but they wanted to keep their independence. When my father died the relationship with my mother quickly changed onto a greater caregiving role. That journey brought many surprises, difficult days, tough decisions and stresses as as I honored her, got appropriate care for her, and experienced relational strains dealing with her dementia, physical losses and family relationships.
The changes came so fast and I felt like I was in a FOG trying to understand all the issues I was dealing with. Professionals shared their assessments about her health. My questions and needs went far beyond their assessments. I had relational questions, suffering and grief questions, spiritual questions as I searched for the deeper meanings God wanted to teach me. I needed a Christian support group to journey with me.
I looked around for a group and did not find any until a Hospice Chaplain told me about Caregivers SOS. My wife and I went to our first meeting with them and were told, “I’m sorry, we don’t meet till next week.” That was typical of the way things were going. The director did spend some time with us to listen to our frustrations and questions. We did join this support group and did take their Stress Busters class and found them very helpful. There were spiritual references in the group, but they were in passing and not very deep. I did not find any caregiver support groups in the churches in San Antonio. When we moved back to Kansas City we looked for a support group here. We saw one listed with Johnson County Aging and called the church only to be told that they had not met for 5 years.
Churches have divorce, grief, drug and alcohol support groups, but where are the support groups for caregivers? Caregiving is very stressful and can be very long lasting. Statistics say almost 50% of caregivers will die before their care receiver. I think this is a great need for churches to address. So I have put together a structure to help teams in the church to care for caregivers through a support group ministry. I provide a theological framework, a guide for how to conduct the group, aids to communicate to those in need and a web site to support the church's efforts.
This is a call to churches to establish Christian Caregiver Support Groups to meet this need of 42 million people in the role of caregiver. Will you consider calling out a team to care for the caregivers?
The church can do better than it is doing to help caregivers to address the deeper needs and spiritual issues of caregivers? It is my prayer that the resources on this web site will help the church meet this need.