Stephen Ministry…allowing God’s love to flow through individual actions
In July 2010, my mom & I moved to Lexington. My prior pastor recommended I check out St Luke’s, so I did. When I walked through the doors for the first time and met the warm, friendly members of the church I knew this was where God wanted us to attend.
Mom had been ill since 2007 and lived with persistent pain. In 2009 at age 90 she moved in with me. Being her sole caregiver brought many challenges for both of us. As her health declined, she was less eager to leave home unless it was for a doctor’s appointment. I was concerned about her well-being and asked that she be put on the prayer list. In talking with several members, I learned about the Stephen Ministry Program and requested that someone be matched up with mom. Since she was not getting out to socialize and didn’t have friends in Lexington I felt this could boost her mental and emotional health.
Mom loved to knit, read and reminisce. The Stephen Ministry Program matched her up with a wonderful lady who enjoyed the same things. Mom looked forward to the weekly visits and spoke highly of her Stephen Minister. She so enjoyed their time together. It always brightened an otherwise painful and lonely day. Since I worked full time, it gave me peace of mind knowing she had someone with whom to enjoy a part of her day while I was out. On several occasions when I went out of town for respite, mom’s Stephen Minister would make extra visits. In addition, she took mom to doctor appointments while I worked, out to eat, and visited mom when she was hospitalized.
After mom’s death a Stephen Minister was matched with me. She was a great source of comfort and support, walking with me through the grieving process.
Mom & I were so appreciative of this valuable, worthy ministry and the friendships that developed. I am forever thankful for the kindness and love shown to us by St Luke’s and by the Stephen Ministry Program.
I thank the Stephen Ministers for willingly expressing God’s love through their service to others. By freely and voluntarily submitting to helping those who need a special friend they make God’s love real by touching and changing lives through small, everyday actions.
I encourage other folks who are experiencing a life crisis or challenge to consider having a Stephen Minister. Whether housebound, depressed, lonely, dying or feeling that no one cares, that is where the Stephen Ministers step in, allowing the love of Christ to flow through them. I pray that this program stays strong and continues to glorify God through the willingness to “serve one another” (Gal 5:13). I know mom is looking down from Heaven and agreeing with a loud “AMEN”.
-Former St. Luke Member
Carol Livingston and her mom Grace Livingston
Without my Stephen Minister I would not be where I am today. Some time ago I was in a miserable situation and needed to make decisions about my future and that of my family. I felt that any decision I made would be wrong in God’s eyes. With the support of my Stephen Minister I realized that God loved me and I found the courage to make critical decisions and move on. Life is still stressful but now several years later I have a supportive husband and safe and loving home for my children and I don’t feel alone and tormented.
About Stephen Ministry…
St. Luke has been a Stephen Ministry congregation since 2001 when four St. Luke members and Pastor Val Johnson traveled to St. Louis for a week long leaders training. Since then four others attended leadership training and several dozen individuals have been trained locally as Stephen Ministers.
Stephen Ministers commit to give two years to the ministry but many at St. Luke continue far longer to actively participate in the twice a month supervision and continuing education required by the national organization for Stephen Ministry. They are not counselors or therapists, they are Christian friends trained to very purposefully listen, support and walk alongside individuals who are dealing with a difficult life situation. Often they simply provide a social connection and special friendship. Sometimes the caring relationship is short perhaps just a few months. Others continue the support and caring for several years or as long as needed.
Assignments are made prayerfully with careful consideration of the personalities and situations involved. A match is always man to man and woman to woman and confidentiality is ensured. A commitmemt is made for weekly visits or contact. If the right Stephen Minister is not available, effort is made to connect individuals to other sources of support either within or outside of St. Luke. The Stephen Ministry team maintains resource information to be able to refer individuals to other kinds of assistance if needed.
Sometimes we all may need a confidant outside our immediate family or circle of friends to allow us to work through a very private issue. If you or someone you know are facing a challenge that seems overwhelming whether it is job, a death, illness, relationship, family issues, a need for social contact and interaction, or general life stress there may be a Stephen Minister a phone call away.