Alice Oeben, COHI Lay Chaplain, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Houston, TX
My first visits with "Virginia" confirmed that dementia had stolen her
ability to have a conversation with anyone. I knew from her son that she
had been active physically and intellectually in both society and church.
The church, especially, had always been the center of her personal and
family life. Hoping that she would be able to listen even if she could not
converse, I took a devotional booklet with me on my next visit. I decided
to read Mary's song of praise, also called the Magnificat, which is found in
Luke 1:46-55. As we sat side by side in her bedroom, I began to read the
beautiful, poetic words. VIrginia was still and quiet as the words became
the center of that moment we shared. "My soul proclaims the greatness of
the Lord...all generations will call me blessed...He has mercy...and has
lifted up the lowly...He has remembered his promise...Glory to the
Father...will be forever. Amen." Suddenly, Virginia clapped her hands
together and exclaimed, "THAT'S BEAUTIFUL!!" God had spoken, and so had
Carol Heddleston, COHI Lay Chaplain, Grace Episcopal, Georgetown, TX (formerly
COHI Lay Chaplain, Pohick Episcopal, Lorton, VA)
He was old.
He was alone and lonely.
He was ill and bedridden.
He was hard of hearing.
He was sometimes grumpy.
He was a child of God.
So we went, once a month, as it was a long drive to the nursing center and we were busy people after all. He was always happy to see us. We would listen to his stories—often repeated, but still interesting. We would offer communion and he was eager to receive and also to read parts of the service. We always left him feeling so uplifted. We marveled at his ability to live so long in his circumstances. One day we went and he was dying. Alone. With only a nurse by his bedside. We were so happy we arrived in time say good-bye. We told him that God was eager to welcome him home. We felt that he could hear us. We blessed him and said good-bye with a kiss. He died the next day.
Testimonial on the COHI Training
Molly Brown, COHI Class of 2017, Good Shepherd Espicopal Church, Dallas
Community of Hope International expands the toolkit I need to serve those whom God has placed in my path. As we often find when called, God ensures if we look for Him, even in our most difficult journeys, we will find our lives enriched and closer to God.
Individuals of varying experiences and skill sets were called to be part of my training. Their combined spiritual gifts were a safe harbor for me to learn and grow. And, as we go out into the world, the continued fellowship and mentorship in COHI recalls God’s promise of to nourish and replenish us through all our journeys. I am grateful to God for shining a light on COHI to lead me to the community I needed to sustain me as I strive to serve God’s people and discern my own God-given gifts and callings.