During my teaching career in the United Kingdom, I was often confronted with problematic situations that involved my students and their home life. On parent interview evenings, I encountered quite a number of parents who would glance at their kid's work and then immediately make their way to me to sit down and discuss an impressive variety of domestic problems. Many of the kids came from very disadvantaged homes, which engendered one-parent families, abusive situations, and depression.
During that time in my life, I realized how difficult, sad, and traumatic life is for many people in our society. After retiring from teaching (and still living in the UK), I went back to school to qualify as a counsellor and became involved, at my local church especially, with "compassion" ministries and general Christian caregiving.
Having immigrated to Canada in 2002, I was excited to become a part of the newly initiated (in 2009) Stephen Ministry. We thank God for the number of people He helped us minister to over the last 10 years. So many people are in need of a "listening ear" at certain times in their lives, be it short-term or long-term, to help them through specific periods of stress, anxiety, and despair.
Some of our Stephen Ministers wear a button, or pin, which lists some of the prerequisites for being an effective caregiver: TRUSTWORTHY (keeping and maintaining confidentiality, being a good listener, silent, connected, and accountable); SKILLED (having learned caregiving skills, to be attentive); FULL OF FAITH (trusting God, in the hope that He can deal with the situation); COMPASSIONATE (suffering together with another person, showing empathy, but above all, LOVING LIKE JESUS). We are a Christ-centred ministry. We expect ALL from Him, and are constantly aware that we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and insight.
To me, it is a privilege and joy to have the opportunity to serve in this way. Galatians 6:2 tells us to, "bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
As a bonus to our team, through the years, our Stephen Ministry group has grown individually and together into a deeper spirituality, love for God, and for each other. I am always amazed and humbled at how God's economy works!
"Therefore encourage one another and build up each other." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
If you are interested in becoming a Stephen Minister, or would like more information, please click here.