Care delivery to vulnerable people
People in need, especially those in hospital, are mostly very vulnerable. People who are at a vulnerable stage in their lives, such as being in hospital, are primarily in need of care. The spirit and heart of the gospel are respect for people (and the whole of creation). Pastoral care thus takes respect for others seriously and wants us to be supportive of the whole person in all his or her needs.
We do not visit the hospital to satisfy any need to be informed about the latest sensational news or to satisfy our curiosity about others’ suffering. But often, when people stop at vehicle accidents or stream to scenes of fire and other traumatic situations, it is to satisfy their own needs.
For us, however, our action of service to a person in need is our main witnessing tool. By caring, we show the love of Christ. But it is important that our hospital careworkers understand that we do not visit patients to evangelise them.
People with a strong need (calling) to focus on evangelising are encouraged to become part of one of the many evangelising teams available. Surely, we will also get opportunities in the hospital to share the gospel, but then it will be because patients indicate that that is what they need, rather than because we have set that as a goal.
Frederik O B Nel