Osceola Grace Church in Osceola, Ind. is a small church with a big challenge: among its members are at least five families dealing with long-term care situations. This unique position gives the members of Osceola Grace a front-and-center opportunity to learn and love in ways that many people never experience.
For years, Osceola Grace has ministered to their own members in need situations like births and deaths. “When someone would have a baby we would take meals in for a week,” said Greg Serafino, pastor. “We’re accustomed to some of that, but it’s always been short-term.”
Ranging from families caring for children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), as well as families with members with physical mobility challenges and immune deficiency issues, the church has rallied to provide them with hot and frozen meals, assist with transportation, and host fundraisers and concerts.
“God has been teaching us a lot about the whole concept of caring for people and what we’re responsible to do,” explained Pastor Serafino. “We are in the process of trying to learn – as a leadership group and as a church – how to care for these people in the ways that meet their needs the most.
“I wish we could say we have it all together. We’ve failed in a bunch of ways and we’ve also helped in a bunch of ways. A number of church members are helping serve the families on their own…which is how the body should function.”
The pastors at Osceola Grace are currently planning a special meeting with some of the families to try to get a more holistic idea of how to meet their ever-present needs.
“It might mean we have to create a team outside the pastoral staff that actually communicates and gathers information. We’re praying that we can figure out the best way to handle long-term care situations and to really be there for people where they need us. The opportunity to hear them gives us a chance to not just rebuild relationships but to grow and prepare ourselves for whatever God brings.
“I think the one thing that I have seen that is satisfying is that several of these families come together and support each other. It’s not been a competition, but instead they communicate, ‘We understand your pain, so tell us how we can come alongside you in your time of need.’”
You can view the story of one of the families, whose beautiful daughter Ella (pictured at right) is suffering from SMA, and find out how to contribute here.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information about ministries in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.