Today is a significant day in my journey with people living with dementia and their carepartners. It was this day, August 23, 2005, that I, along with a group of dedicated volunteers and supportive staff, launched Grace Arbor, the congregational respite ministry of First United Methodist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia . It was the day that my life would begin to change as I walked the dementia journey with hundreds of families. My greatest teachers would prove to be those who were living with dementia yet still loving life and engaging in it, as best as they could. My heart would, and continues to, expand in love when I enter into relationship with these precious folks. I learned and continue to learn to “celebrate life in the moment.”
In Luke’s Gospel, Luke 8:43-48, Jesus encounters a woman who has been sick for twelve years. She has tried all the therapies and nothing has helped. She approaches Jesus from behind and touches the hem of His garment. Jesus knows that something amazing has happened and asks who touched His garment. In a posture of humility, the woman approaches Jesus from the front and falls at His feet confessing that it she who touched His garment. Jesus resonds to her with something incredible; inspiring; unbelievable-He tells her that she took a risk of faith and it was because of that faith-risk she is healed!
As I think over the past seventeen years, I see myself in this narrative. Broken, yet seeking. Approaching Jesus, by faith and much trembling, seeking His anointing and blessing for ministry to families with dementia. Trusting in Him to order my steps and the steps of all who served at Grace Arbor, so that families would be supported and their loved ones engaged in purposeful ministry. Seeking Him for staff, volunteers, resources for scholarships and on and on. Seeking Him, as others came to learn how, through our best practices, to do respite ministry and then having His power to write two books on how to start this type ministry. It truly has been a journey of faith.
Lest I be remiss, First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville took a risk of faith by hiring me as full time staff to implement, launch, and direct this ministry. They really didn’t know me, yet saw something that said to them-she is the one. This blessed church, so mission-minded, wanted to add one more aspect of care to their church by offering this day program. What a risk of faith-hiring a full time staff member for a program not yet created. Yet, they did! God gave them the vision of “what could be” and then the resources to make it happen. By God’s grace and equipping we launched this ministry of care! I continue to celebrate this church as a shining example of faith: walking into respite ministry and supporting it through its prayers, presence, gifts and service!
Today, you will find that I’ve been in a new chapter of my life for the past four years. I’m no longer at First United Methodist Church nor at Grace Arbor. That chapter of my life has ended as I have been called out to assist other churches and organizations with the knowledge and insights I gained while I directed Grace Arbor. It has been a bittersweet season, as I left a wonderful ministry to step out in faith. In so many ways, God has affirmed my calling out and confirmed it in life situations and ministry opportunities. I am grateful and humbled by all I have met and have helped. New programs are launching, new books are being written, more people are being educated as I have stepped out.
Maggie and grandson, Isaiah at Peachtree Christian Health
Today, my heart and spirit go to the basement of First United Methodist Church where a great cloud of witnesses and a group of wonderful, living people are continuing this ministry of faith. Lisa Hale and her assistant Tim are directing this ministry to help families living with dementia along with a group of faithful, caring, committed volunteers. There continues to be an ever faithful church staff supporting this amazing ministry…A risk of faith continues to be a reality of love. To God alone be the glory, great things He has done!
2 thoughts on “A Risk of Faith”
Thank you, Robin, for taking that risk of faith! So many have been and continue to be blessed through this ministry! I am so grateful that Bob and I have been a part of Grace Arbor! Thank you for all you have done to create and advance this amazing ministry! Happy Birthday Grace Arbor!!!
I’m so grateful that you said yes all those years ago to take our dream and with God’s help make Grace Arbor a reality. What an amazing gift you are to those in need. Happy Birthday Grace Arbor!!!!!!