Caring for Retired Church Staff for Healthy Continuity

Pastors from Liaozhong District Church paid visits to elderly believers and residents of a nearby nursing home on February 9, 2024, in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province.
Pastors from Liaozhong District Church paid visits to elderly believers and residents of a nearby nursing home on February 9, 2024, in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province.
By Josiah LiMarch 8th, 2024

An eighty-year-old minister said that as long as there is an audience, he can spend hours sharing his previous work, service, accomplishments, and the places he has traveled.

This old minister is an elder who promoted the establishment of various churches when he was the chairman of the local Three-Self Patriotic Movement for years. In his career, he was a leader with exceptional skills and a technical school teacher.

His stories are countless, yet the audience is countable. When he was young, a soon-to-retired leader reminded him: "Though various accompanies are around at the moment, they will be gone when you are no longer in the position, just like the tea will cool down as soon as the guest leaves." He didn't pay attention back then, yet those words came true unexpectedly. 

He lamented that calls to his home were nonstop when landlines were dominant. However, his cell phone remains silent all day now, though he uses the prevailing WeChat.

This elder’s later years are quite comfortable with a big house, a pension, a strong body, and a healthy wife, as well as different new hobbies. However, life has become quieter since retirement.

In addition to him, another 80-year-old pastor I visited also left a deep impression on me. She once stood on the roadside in front of her house and waited for me for about an hour, as I was dozens of minutes later than agreed for one of my visits. Upon my coworkers' and my arrival, she started preparing a delicious meal. She consistently served the visitors delectable food that other people had sent her, despite not being wealthy and leading a frugal lifestyle with a monthly income of only 800 yuan. 

She is the founder of the local church. Upon believing in the Lord, she kept leading people to Him and soon established a meeting point, from which the congregations erected the first local church following several years of relocations in renting places for assembly. She continued to preach the gospel in the neighboring areas, establishing distinct meeting points. After the old church became dilapidated, she prayed with the believers for a new building. Till now, she is still praying for the local church.

In her later years, this pastor lived alone in a simple room in the church compound. When she was young, she married a widower who had no biological children with her. Due to her faith, the children severed contact with her after her spouse died. She would occasionally send me messages, expressing expectations for my next visit.

I have heard several more sad stories concerning the old ministers. Among them, one served the Lord fervently when he was young and even faced a crime, which he eventually rehabilitated. However, he lived at a subsistence level in his later years. Another elderly pastor of a provincial CC&TSPM was unable to afford medical expenses due to the lack of a guarantee of livelihood after retirement.

While the church is busy with numerous ministries, they should put more effort into caring for the predecessors who have contributed to the church, showing love in return, and ensuring healthy continuity.

- Translated by Poppy Chan

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