Very soon after my husband Neil and I became members of this church, I learned about a ministry in which lay people could be trained to provide a warm space for listening to and caring for another person during a time of personal crisis or upheaval.
That program, called Stephen Ministry, appealed to me for several reasons. I was a counselor and a mediator, but this volunteer opportunity was different. The requirements were a commitment to training and supervision, an ability to listen without judgment, and regular visits with a care receiver until he/she felt ready to move ahead independently. Confidentiality is valued above all.
An oft-heard phrase to describe the program is that God is the Cure Giver, Stephen Ministers are the Care Givers who assist pastors in congregational care.
Over the years I have experienced stressful periods and indecision about how to respond in ways that would help healing, for myself and the others involved. Even as I prayed for answers I also received encouragement in sharing my situation with another whose faith and Christian practices I respected. Together we experienced God’s love.
Stephen Ministers do not provide answers. They are trained over several months on how to provide a safe place in which two people listen together to God’s direction. In that setting the care receiver no longer needs to feel isolated or fearful. I have been blessed as a Stephen Minister to know young mothers, midlife career changers, and women facing health issues that constrain their daily lives. Each pairing has been a privilege beyond measure. God has been at the center of every meeting.
Stephen Ministers have experienced many of the daily challenges that can seem overwhelming. We are privileged to be called to walk with another through a difficult time, providing comfort and consistent care.
If you would like to know more about this ministry, please contact Bonnie Stowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Dave Weaver at email@example.com.