By Sharon Rich
For many years the Bolain home group has had a heart for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) because we have seen the challenges faced by one of our members, Dave Hesse. God has graciously given us opportunities to serve a particular group of people with PD, including the chance this month to boldly share the gospel with a large group at a Christmas party. We were amazed to see 30 people join us for dinner, music, games, and a talk on the hope that Jesus has brought to our friend Dave.
Dave was a non-Christian when he was diagnosed several years ago, and he started participating in an experimental program to see if rigorous exercise could help people with Parkinsons. While the program “Delay the Disease” (DTD) offered help with Dave’s symptoms, it could not answer the spiritual questions raised by a difficult chronic condition. Dave also began an earnest consideration of the claims of Christ, and eventually received Christ a few years after diagnosis.
“Delay the Disease” holds a 5K each year to help provide free exercise classes for people with PD, and our home church started helping with planning and race day support. While we enjoyed the opportunity (and continue to help each year), it did not really give us a good chance to share the gospel.
When the Xenos Adult Ministry started challenging home churches to take on a ministry as a group, our home church gathered to consider what ministry we might pursue. We threw out many ideas, but when Dave proposed we dive in more fully on serving the PD community, it was clear this was God’s plan for our group.
We started providing rides for people no longer able to drive themselves to the exercise classes, and started helping in the classes themselves. This opened the door to loving relationships and service.
A few months ago Dave challenged our group to find a way to take our involvement farther--finding a way to more directly bring the gospel to people. After praying and considering we decided to offer a regular breakfast with a short Bible talk--something we plan to start in January. Our Christmas party earlier this month was a way to kick this off.
The idea to host a party for people in the DTD classes actually came last December after our traditional home church Christmas party. Years ago we would draw many guests to this event, but in the last few years, though many invitations were given out, we would get few, if any guests. After last year’s event we knew something had to change. Instead of inviting people to our party, we would take our party to people who might not otherwise have a Christmas party to enjoy.
So in September Dave asked the people who run Delay the Disease if we could use their gym for the party, and they were happy to do so (they greatly appreciate our service to people who need rides to class). With some decorations (including a crackling fire on TV!) we transformed the gym into a festive space.
We were humbled to see how God worked through this party. We were so pleased to see so many guests, including caregivers and family members. Also, it was clear that God had a special role for each member of our home church that evening, and we had many good conversations with guests. Dave spoke, using as the basis of his talk a familiar illustration to the group--the four “legs” of support they need to help with the challenges of PD: exercise, rest, diet, and spiritual support. He offered that he had found an answer to the need for spiritual support through his relationship with Christ and challenged them to consider it. Dave is a friend to many in this group and had their attention.
The party was a joyous event for our guests and our home church. We sang, played games, and there was even dancing!
Please pray for our ministry! Pray that people would consider the hope that Jesus brings to their difficult condition. Pray for our plans for a breakfast in January with a short Bible talk. Pray that He would continue to guide our steps in this ministry.
We love our brother Dave, and the people in his community, and are excited to see where God wants to take our ministry in the future.