Why would anyone go into a nursing home on purpose?
ONE-TIME VISIT BEGINS 25-YEAR MINISTRY
A Surprise Ministry
On Christmas of 1973, Dorothy Miller took her three-year old son Paul inside a nursing home to give a box of cookies to a elderly lady. She wanted her son to learn about giving. Surprisingly, the loneliness of these forgotten seniors beckoned her to return—so this intended, one-time visit turned into a twenty-eight year ministry.
A Book Is Born
Wanting everyone to share in the joys of visiting the elderly prompted her to write about her experiences. This book, A Song For Grandmother, abounds with uplifting stories as well as providing much-needed information on the how-tos of ministering to these “warehoused” seniors. Helpful scriptures, selected for both volunteers and residents, are presented in convenient categories. The book is also available on cassette tape as read by the author. Click here for excerpt, Vision of a Child.
Video Stirs Reluctant Hearts
Realizing that many Christians remain unaware (as she had been) of the desperate loneliness of nursing-home residents, Dorothy also spearheaded the Jeremiah Films production of the video, A Song For Grandmother.
The resulting film transports hesitant volunteers inside nursing homes by allowing them to view the first-time visits of some other volunteers. These assorted volunteers prepared for their trip by reading the fast-moving A Song for Grandmother book. Then, the new volunteers ask the Lord to guide in this important outreach. Their interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes moving experiences, and vibrant testimonies demonstrate the value and ease of volunteerism.
A Guide For Churches
The Lord asked one more thing of Dorothy. An implementation package was needed for churches. This 8 ½ by 11 manual of deployment is now known as Compassion In Action. Easy to use, photocopyable information guides each church group in encouraging volunteers from all age groups. It gives suggestions for recruiting leaders, training people for service, obtaining supplies and maintaining the “CIA.”
Besides her 28 years of experience in nursing home ministry, Dorothy’s rich background of leading Pioneer Girls, teaching Bible studies and training world-class riders in equestrian jumping skills prepared her to convey information in a practical, interesting manner.
The Lord’s Preparation
The Lord’s plan of honing Dorothy’s organizational skills through managing the family owned, California based, equestrian center is evident throughout the CIA program. She developed and wrote a complete curriculum for their riding school (the largest on the West Coast) as well as managing eighteen horse shows yearly.
During this ranch life, God showed her many ways to involve others in the ministry of visiting the elderly.
Young riders and campers from the center’s live-in camp program went along on visits to seniors living in professional-care homes. This opened opportunities to discuss Jesus’ love with her students. Visits also encouraged riders who were Christians to speak out about their faith in God.
Dorothy’s own two children began ministering in nursing homes at an early age. This, she believes, has contributed to their current boldness in witnessing to their peers about salvation in Jesus Christ. She observes that Paul, now a family man who brings his own children to reach out in nursing homes. Both Paul and daughter Rachel, a college student, developed a genuine love for the elderly from these experiences.
These visits also produced a healthy attitude in them toward aging and death enabling them to wisely assist other family members during the illness and death of their own beloved grandfather. Now following in Paul’s footsteps, Dorothy’s grandchildren go with her to minister.
Another avenue of service included in A Song For Grandmother and Compassion In Action is the use of music. Dorothy’s own love of Christian music led her to organize children and adults in musical plays and variety shows designed for nursing homes.
Besides giving full credit to God for the background experiences which enabled her to produce this material, she mentions her own parent’s example.
“Generously, the Lord gave me a dad who was a master teacher, inveterate organizer, helper of the helpless and successful songwriter and musician. My mom, always helped and loved everybody, especially the elderly. God, through my parents, then later through other experiences, was equipping me to serve these seniors whom He loves.”