She Doesn’t Need Another Bible, She Needs a Friend

Dear church members who visit those living in nursing homes and assisted livings,

First, thank you. Thank you for caring enough to visit. Thank you for taking time to minister to residents. Your heart seems to be in the right place.

Second, I appreciate your generosity in giving Bibles. It’s very kind.

However, may I suggest that you get to know each resident before giving them a large, expensive study Bible?

My mom has been in three facilities over the past year. She now owns six study Bibles. Each a different translation. None of which are large print. And none of which she reads.

Yes, my mom is a believer. She loves Jesus! She reads the Bible daily. She reads her Bible. You see, she already owned a nice Bible when she arrived at the first facility. It’s nice because it’s hers. It’s familiar. It is simply a Bible, without a lot of extras. It’s what she needs and what she loves. It has her notes in it. She knows where things are in it. She doesn’t need six more Bibles.

Like many of her generation, mom will not refuse a Bible when offered, nor will she get rid of one. To her it is holy. Something to be cared for. But she doesn’t need yet something else to be cared for.

Nor does she need a study Bible. All those extras – which may be helpful to you – are simply extra to her. She’s not familiar with the layout of the Bible you gave her. The extra words on each page can be confusing. She doesn’t know how to use all those tools in the front or the back. It’s an unfamiliar format in an unfamiliar translation.

So the Bibles she’s been given stay in their boxes. Unread.

Those extra Bibles are taking up space. Apartments in assisted livings are not big; there isn’t much storage space. She has to try to find room for them in her small apartment. They have become simply another book to be moved around, taking up precious space and looking like clutter to her.

What she needs is not for you to give her another Bible and walk away; she needs you to sit with her, tell your favorite Bible story, and listen to her tell you her favorite.

She doesn’t need to be evangelized; she became a Christian years ago. She needs true fellowship with other believers. She needs a friend, one who will read and listen and pray with her.

You would know this if you sat down with staff to learn about the residents and how best to help them. You’d know that many cannot read any longer, even those who sit with a book in hand appearing to read. Their eyes may not focus; their brains may not understand. Please, take time to learn what they need, without being offended when it may be different than you expected.

Many, if not most, residents in such facilities have some form or degree of dementia, a horrible disease which slowly robs a person of the ability to understand. Hearing the Bible read aloud may be the only way they can “read” the Bible. They may not comment, but they often love hearing God’s Word read aloud as they quietly soak it in. And repetition of familiar passages is comforting to them, as it is to many of us.

So, yes! Please keep visiting. Keep sharing your faith – all your faith, not just how to be saved but also how to have peace in difficult circumstances. Keep bringing musicians and singing hymns with the residents. And, please, sit down on the porch, have a cup of coffee, and chat with them.

And ask them if them have a favorite Bible before giving them yet another.


A daughter who loves her mom and who loves Jesus

5 thoughts on “She Doesn’t Need Another Bible, She Needs a Friend

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am surprised ( but I do believe you!) about some of your mom’s experiences. It is very strange to me that people would just give study Bibles, esp to an older person!! (Even some younger folks could be overwhelmed by a study Bible.)
    Maybe because I was a nurse 18 years, I just know things about the elderly that the regular population does not. As you say, older folks may need large print or they can’t read at all anymore. Yes – offering to READ the Bible TO them, they might appreciate and could even calm an old believer with dementia. If these visitors come through churches, it seems these churches need to provide some training/orientation about working with the aged before they volunteer with this ministry.
    I sometimes preach at an assisted living facility. I meet several other people there, who do other parts of the service. These several others are the same ones, and it rotates with who comes to preach. My first time, I was shocked. When I arrived, I automatically began greeting residents, and I chose a seat among them. The other volunteers were not greeting the residents but standing off to the side, and then they all sat by themselves way off to the side. Uh? Do you think the old folks are contagious or something? After the service, I also go around and greet everyone again. I’ve been asked to pray with someone, etc. Some need a listening ear. The guy who leads the singing, always thanks me for being so “pastoral” and he seems to indicate I am the only preacher who does this!!!!! What?!?! It seems common sense to me….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Laura,

      A few years ago our Sunday school class volunteered to serve a meal at the local Mission. Many showed up dressed as if going to brunch at the club, not to serve food. After serving all the clients, folks stood along the wall watching. Ron and I sat at different tables talking with the men.

      Afterwards our classmates asked if we knew those guys. “We do now,” we answered.

      I was amazed that others didn’t take time to speak with and listen to the clients.

      Now, three years later, many of those clients work at the company my husband heads. He tries to hire as many from Faith Mission as he can.

      Liked by 1 person

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