One thing we know is true: It’s never too late to make the biggest decision of your life.
Five nursing home residents proved it when they were baptized by volunteers from Southeast Christian Church’s Southwest Campus Saturday, Aug. 17.
Everything about that day was unique.
Shelia Lockhart, Gary Fulkerson, Jan Schoenlaub, Carl Walden and Dennis Williams are in their 80s and 90s. Each one faces challenges. Wheelchairs. The inability to stand or bend. Open wounds that cannot get wet.
No matter. They had waited too long to sweat the “small” stuff. And time is short.
Iroquois Park Rehab and Nursing Center buzzed with excitement that day as Southwest Campus members Jeff and Paula Pasley filled a portable baptism tub in the courtyard.
The Palseys volunteer with Scoops and Scripture, an organization that seeks to engage people with the Gospel in local residential facilities. Each Scoops monthly gathering includes a time of singing, a devotional, door prizes, photos, fellowship and an ice cream party.
Scoops and Scripture volunteers have been visiting Iroquois Park Nursing Center for four years.
At first, they visited every month, but then something happened. Volunteers fell in love with residents. They visited more often, sometimes every day to meet a need.
Southwest member Ricky Kiper joined the Scoops and Scripture group to provide music. He found that no matter how much or how little residents understand, they “come alive” when they hear hymns. Many sing along.
“I love the people,” Kiper said. “The Bible says what you do for the least of these you do for Me. So many of these people are overlooked. A lot have no visitors. When we first started going, they wondered who we were. Now they beg us to come more often. They need someone to love them, sit with them, talk and mostly listen.”
As residents, family members, staff and 30 volunteers with Scoops and Scripture gathered for the baptism, strong arms of volunteers on each side helped residents stand.
When it became obvious they could not get into the tub or even bend back to be baptized, the group found a creative way to make it work. They helped them bend forward to be baptized.
“This is my decision,” Fulkerson told the watching crowd of staff, volunteers and residents. “I want to do this.”
After she was baptized, Lockhart said over and over, “I’m baptized! I’m baptized!”
Williams asked to be baptized when volunteers arrived that morning. Kiper talked to him about faith and his decision to follow Jesus. When it became clear he had known Jesus a long time and wanted to be obedient in baptism, they agreed to make it happen.
Each one put aside fear to follow through.
There were few dry eyes among the crowd of staff and volunteers.
As Senior Pastor Kyle Idleman announced the opening of Southeast’s eighth campus at Chapel in the Woods, he pointed to the need to reach seniors with the Gospel. Eternity is close. It’s not a mission field many choose.
Kelly Pass loved hearing those words.
It confirmed what she knew to be true 10 years ago when retired Senior Minister Bob Russell preached on a ready harvest in need of workers. In response, Pass founded Scoops and Scripture, which now has monthly meetings at more than 35 local facilities. There also are six groups in Texas and three in South Carolina.
“We need people to go tell,” Pass said. “We are privileged to carry the Gospel.”
For more information about Scoops and Scripture, visit www.scoopsandscripture.org.