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Loving the Dying

(from Jonathan Herron)

Recently I started serving as a Hospice Chaplain in addition to serving at Life Church. With my ADHD, choosing to do chaplaincy visitations is not my strongest gifting. It’s part of a huge shift I’ve intentionally made in my life and leadership.

My reasons for serving the terminally ill and dying in this way is two-fold. The first reason is because I have felt deeply challenged by Bob Goff to live out Matthew 25: “Love is sacrifice and commitment. Jesus wants us to love hungry people, thirsty people, naked people, sick people, strange people and people in jail. That’s it. That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s a weird business card. I want to help people.”

One way Amber have lived this out over the years is by adopting five infants and creating a new kind of family. Now I am embracing hospice chaplaincy to also live out Matthew 25 in my own life. By holding the hand of an elderly, declining patient with Alzheimer’s, I am (hopefully) being Jesus to them in their final weeks of life.

The second reason for this big shift in my life springs out of my own struggles with depression and loneliness. Over the past two years, all of my closest friends have either died or ditched me. Literally. It’s been brutal. As I’ve sought God in prayer and through Scripture during this season of being alone, I’ve sensed the Spirit telling me to focus on others who truly experience deep loneliness: the dying.

What I’ve discovered along the way is that we all can slow down and spend time listening to people who are not like us, especially when they are unable to leave their homes or their assisted-living facilities. There is a special grace to be experienced in simply being present for patients and compassionately listening.

I hope that this small new endeavor spreads love and hope into the lives of those facing hospice care in our area. And I hope to find healing in my own heart as I continue to extend a hand in love.
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Jonathan Herron

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