The most important relationship we will ever have is with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The beautiful personal relationship God had with Adam and Eve was broken the moment sin entered the garden. Since then, we have relied on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to redeem us, and to restore the relationship with God. He has provided a model for our human relationships.
We know relationships among people are very important to our well being. We recognize the need for relationships at a young age. When our children entered preschool we were concerned about how they would get along with the other children and if they would make any friends. Luckily, they did make friends and perhaps one was too social, as her teachers in school often reminded us. The next concern was would they be bullied and unfortunately, one of our three children was bullied in elementary school. Relationships are difficult.
The need to be in healthy relationships continues throughout our life. Relationships require many factors to be successful. Not the least of these is love and respect. God loves us so much that we in turn should Love Like Jesus. Recently, Pastor Paul and Pastor Jordan gave us many practical ways to do just that. But doing something and being intentional requires our time. Most healthy relationships require time and perhaps a lot of time and effort.
Lack of time given to a relationship hampers the growth of that relationship. If we don't pray and read the bible on a regular basis our close relationships can drift apart. There are many reasons why relationships become strained or even broken. As parents and grandparents, we love our children but sometimes that doesn't seem to be enough. Anger takes over which leads to arguments and, perhaps, even estrangement. Successful marriages are built on the love of God but even Christian marriages are strained to the point of divorce. Geographic distance can also be a challenge to a relationship. Loss of employment is a unique broken relationship. Of course, the ultimate broken relationship is the death of a loved one.
One of the impacts of the loss of a relationship is loneliness. As an elementary school principal, it broke my heart to see a child alone on the playground during recess or lunch. As a Stephen Minister, I have the same reaction when I see seniors struggling with loneliness because a spouse has died or their family has moved away. At any age, loneliness can lead to depression and other serious mental health concerns.
It is at a time of crisis that a Stephen Minister usually meets a care receiver. The crisis can be the death of a loved one, the diagnosis of a life shortening illness, depression, or divorce. No matter what the crisis, a Stephen Minister makes a commitment to develop a relationship that will last as long as it takes to help the care receiver through the challenging time. The relationship works well because of the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Stephen Minister. Over time, the care receiver understands that only God can cure the situation, but also knows the Stephen Minister cares for them.
Stephen Ministry is missional. We meet with our care receivers every week for at least an hour and we share a prayer and scripture as part of our visit. As a group, we meet every second week to think of and pray for our care receivers and to keep ourselves accountable. By developing a relationship with the care receiver we are serving our neighbours by showing them how much God loves them.
Stephen Ministry has been a part of God's story at South Delta Baptist Church for the last 10 years. Because of the vision of Pastor Paul Johnson and Rebecca van den Brink, Stephen Ministry was introduced as part of the church's compassionate ministries. And, because of the huge commitment of time by many Christian men and women from our congregation, we have been able to show God's love to a large number of care receivers. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary, we look forward to continuing to serve God by developing many new relationships.