People who experience short-term needs such as accidents and illnesses usually find that fellow church members embrace them with love and help. But people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or the increasing difficulties that come with aging—that is, people who don’t “get better”—often feel forgotten by their church families.
Caring for people with long-term challenges requires new thinking and a different sort of caring than helping people with short-term needs. To help church leaders learn to care for people dealing with long-term needs, Disability Concerns and Faith Alive published A Compassionate Journey: Coming Alongside People with Disabilities or Chronic Illnesses, by John Cook.
In the spring of 2008, Disability Concerns sponsored three workshops that featured A Compassionate Journey. These workshops were funded through a grant from the Christian Reformed Church’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence project, which is funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.
More than 130 people attended the workshops held in Grand Rapids, Mich., and in Kitchener and Burlington, Ontario. Attendees received free copies of A Compassionate Journey and learned a model for caring based on a “ministry of presence.” The book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter and a sample workshop so that anyone can use it in group settings to learn this model for caring.
A Compassionate Journey can be ordered from Faith Alive Christian Resources, www.faithaliveresources.org.