CFE is a ministry of Todd’s family and church, he told me recently – one that’s designed to encourage, equip, and enable relationship-centered eldercare. That means, among other things, enabling home-based eldercare as an alternative to institutional care, and exhorting church leaders to provide loving support to elderly church members.
“We believe that we are biblically called to honor the elderly,” he explained. “In many cases, that’s not happening today, even among Christians. In fact, many families within our church have approached our diaconate for help in caring for their elderly parents. It’s our goal to be able to provide that help. At the same time, we want to address the needs of widows without living relatives; according to Acts 6, it’s the responsibility of the church to care for them.”
For many churches, responding to these needs requires a transformation, Todd pointed out.
“Most of this transformation will come through the preaching of the Word. So we are also calling upon pastors and elders to biblically preach honor and care for the elderly, as well as visiting and loving them wherever they are, as James 1:27 instructs.”
CFE’s tactics include building a robust inventory of eldercare resources and lending a hand to caregiving families. “We know caregiving is very hard,” he said, “but we feel that with the help of the church and good resources, families can experience success and joy in their eldercare endeavors.”
Those involved with CFE also hope to help promote practical alternatives to the standard, costly eldercare model provided by nursing homes. Towards that end, they’re planning to host what’s probably the country’s first National Christian Family Eldercare Conference next March in Denver. Sessions will cover subjects from practical training by veteran caregivers to the economics of Christian eldercare, and everything in between.
This ministry emerged from a growing recognition the many elderly people in our culture are not being treated with the honor, respect, relationship, and value that the Word of God clearly commands, Todd said.
“We have been alarmed by what we see as the slow removal of the elderly from today’s families and from society as a whole, and the lack of direct involvement in their lives by church leaders.
“We’re talking about some of the most vulnerable people in our society. So we have felt the call for a God-fearing compassion for them as the forgotten critical aspect of any ‘sanctity of life’ endeavor.”
The need is becoming more pressing, he added, with U.S. demographics trending toward more elderly and fewer people to care for them.
“I recently read that the number of older adults in California is projected to increase by 96 percent over the next 20 years, while the number of working-age adults will increase by just 9 percent. And these statistics are being echoed across the nation and around the world.”
Sadly, he said, as a culture we tend to ignore the elderly, even in the church. “We Americans think we know everything and don’t need the wisdom of the hoary head. Which is foolish; the wisdom of the elderly is worth more than their weight in gold.”
What are Todd’s calls-to-action for the audiences of importance to CEF?
“We ask Christian children to lovingly care for their parents in fulfillment of Exodus 20:12 and 1 Timothy 5:8 – ideally, to do so at home.
“We ask Christians in general to fulfill James 1:27, Leviticus 19:32, and 1 Timothy 5:1-2 by visiting, honoring and serving the elderly – and to consider caring for other Christians, as we’re told in John 19 that the apostle John did for Mary.
“And we ask church leadership to care and provide for the elderly, as prescribed in 1 Timothy 5 and Acts 6.”
In Leviticus 19, the Lord tells us, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God.” Today’s too-often isolated, institutional, and costly methodology of senior care is not the best way to do that, Todd said. Thankfully, there are individuals like the Strawsers out there, determined to make a difference in these precious lives.
For details, visit Christian Family Eldercare’s web site.