Evangelism and dementia

Oct 21, 2019 by

by Isaac Pain, Church Society:

Isaac Pain reflects on his experiences of ministering in care homes and our approach to evangelism amongst those suffering from dementia.

This week I took a Harvest services in one of the care homes we minister in. I love these opportunities to take the gospel into care homes. To the outside world they won’t look very glitzy or glamorous occasions, but, to those with eyes to see, they are opportunities to live out the topsy-turvy gospel where it’s the last who will be first, the weak who are strong, the poor who are rich, the foolish who are wise, and where quiet, humble, secret service is what brings God glory.

In total we minister in six care homes, and each one has a number of residents with dementia. A quick google search tells me that approximately 800,000 people in the UK are formally diagnosed with dementia, that 1 in 20 people over the age of 60 will get dementia, and 1 in 6 over the age of 80.

I imagine I’m not the only one who has had that heart-warming experience where a traditional hymn, a memorable bible verse, and the Lord’s Prayer said in its traditional form has brought otherwise distant eyes into focus and transformed a closed mouth into one that mouths along with once familiar words. Jesus promised his disciples in John 10:28 that, “no-one will snatch them out of my hand.” And even the ravages of dementia will not prise open Jesus’ hands that grasp those whom have been entrusted to him by his Father.

But what about those with dementia who don’t yet know Christ? Do we have any hope for them? We know that Christ is stronger than death, but is he stronger than loss of memory and mind? What would conversion, baptism, and discipleship even look like for someone who can’t even recognise their spouse?

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