“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” - James 1:27
We all understand that Christians should provide care for the widows and the orphans. Many of our senior partners have no remaining family. The Church becomes their family. I recently heard a term for this. Those who have no family and are elderly are called “Elder-orphans.”
In a historic video with Virgil Bentley, the first Executive Director of Christian Care in Mesquite and Minister at the Campus congregation, he said, “an elderly person may have to be shut in, but not shut out.” The church needs to be a place where seniors may continue to find a sense of purpose and not feel shut out.
There is an old African proverb about a band of elephants crossing the plains together – young and old. They come to a raging river. The large elephants step into the dangerous waters and have no trouble crossing. Yet the timid, the aged, and the baby elephants linger behind – fearful – afraid of stepping into turbulent waters.
The larger, stronger elephants who have already crossed noticed that many are still on the distant shore.
The dominant elephant, the leader – did not call a town meeting, nor write a government grant, or seek congressional legislation. The leader of the elephants turned around, got back into the water, followed by the other large elephants and they stood in the center of the river shoulder to shoulder, allowing their bodies to create a dam that held back the water allowing the small, elderly and timid elephants to safely cross over to dry ground. How many people who “make it” in this life – who the world deems successful people – who make it to the other side – forget those on the distant shore. We must practice pure and undefiled religion as we also care for the “Elder-orphans” in our congregation.