The Power of Christian Caring
I WAS PRIVILEGED TO ATTEND a Stephen Ministry Leadership training conference in Orlando last month. It was an amazing experience as I met close to 400 men and women who were in attendance to gain the knowledge and skills to implement and grow the Stephen Ministry program within their church. I knew in an instant that I was where I was called to be, because everyone I met and all that I learned was God-centered and Spirit-filled. God blessed me richly with this experience so that I may share the importance of Christian care in people’s lives.
What is Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry is a non-profit Christian education organization that was founded in 1975. Its mission is to equip pastors and laypeople to provide high-quality Christian care to hurting people. I was amazed to learn that more than 600,000 lay people alone have received Stephen Ministry training and that more than 1.5 million people have had a Stephen Minister walk side-by-side with them during a time of need.
What is Christian care by a Stephen Minister?
Christian care by a Stephen Minister is a one-to-one caring relationship with a trained Stephen Minister who lovingly comes along side of you to provide hope and support, kindness and grace. (Known as a care receiver, you must be at least 18 years of age to participate in a caring relationship). A Stephen Minister listens, cares, encourages, and prays for you and with you; he or she is your spiritual anchor and caregiver. Your visits together occur one time per week for one hour – men are matched with men and women are matched with women. A Stephen Minister is trustworthy and can be counted on for his/her confidentiality because your care relationship is personal and private.
The Stephen Minister’s role is to be present in your life during times of trials and struggle. This may be grief, loneliness, or disappointment; divorce, anger, or feelings of abandonment; ongoing medical issues or the stress of being a primary caregiver; job loss, disability or discouragement; anger, addiction, or financial setbacks. The person in need can be a family member, friend, or neighbor; someone from your community group or church family; an acquaintance or work colleague; a current or former member of the military…or it could be you.
How do I connect with Stephen Ministry?
No matter how big or small the struggle, please reach out for help. Begin by contacting the church office, who will put you in touch with a Stephen Leader. Please don’t hesitate to approach a Stephen Minister or a Stephen Leader (myself, Linda Papertsian or Ray Gratton) directly – they will guide you from that initial contact through the care relationship process. You don’t have to walk alone – walk in the light of Jesus, knowing that He will never leave you or forsake you.