One rewarding kind of outreach for a Sabbath School class is hospital visitation, but many individuals are uncomfortable in such surroundings. Here is a useful guide.
- Arrive early enough to pray when someone faces surgery. If the person you’re visiting has a roommate, ask if he or she would like to be included in your prayer.
- Touch the person. Hold hands, especially when you pray.
- Spread smiles. Recall funny times. However, don’t make the patient laugh so hard that he rips stitches loose.
- Focus on the positives. Simple statements such as “Your smile looks brighter” help patients see beyond their wounds.
- Let patients be real. If they need to cry, let them. Swallow pat answers and sermons. If you don’t understand an illness, especially a psychological or psychiatric problem, simply say, “I don’t understand, but I love you and care.” Silently being there is often the greatest gift.
- Be sensitive to a patient’s (and his family’s) spiritual condition. Traumatic times may offer opportunities for God’s wooing. If the Lord opens a door, share Christ.
- Keep patients connected with the outside world, especially when a hospital stay becomes lengthy. Bring church bulletins, notes from friends, photographs, etc.
- Bring your Bible. If a patient feels up to it, read to him.
- Pray before visiting for God’s wisdom and discernment.
- Respect medical personnel. Be considerate. Hospital staff are often under stress.
- Be forgiving. Pained people sometimes say sharp words. Don’t pounce back. Be extra gentle.
Friends and family can be the best or worst medicine a patient receives. Why not be the best!
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists