by Steve Lestarjette
Reaching out to people can be as simple as making a visit, sharing a smile, or offering a prayer.
Those are the tools Gerry Saccane and a team of volunteers from Sagemont Church use each week to encourage residents of Emeritus Assisted Living Center, located at 14101 Bay Pointe Court in Houston.
The church believes in reaching out so much, it wrote the mission into its name. The ministry is called CROP, Church Reaching Out to People.
To be sure, CROP is more than visits to senior residents at Emeritus. Each week, some of the ministry’s 95 volunteers commit themselves to praying for churchgoers with special needs, while others visit homebound members of the congregation.
Still others make regular visits to Emeritus to hold services and visit with the elderly.
“Two teams minister there,” Saccane says. “One team provides two worship services for residents each month, while another drops by frequently to visit Alzheimer’s patients.”
Worship services begin at 3 p.m. and last about an hour. Aides employed by the center often go from room to room announcing the service and bringing those who desire to attend. “We have preaching, sharing and singing,” the coordinator says.
Visits with Alzheimer’s patients are more personal. “We share a Bible story, refreshments, and spend time visiting.”
The relationship with Emeritus began years ago when Sagemont Church Executive Pastor Church Schneider knew the manager of (then) Rosemont Assisted Living Center. The manager requested ministry for residents of the center, and the church responded.
Ever since, as steady as rain, Emeritus has heard the sound of guitars and raised voices on Sunday afternoons.
“We have a corporate worship service, and most of them participate,” Saccane says. “Our ministry is two-fold: we worship together and we fellowship. Many times, when folks enter a nursing home, their family does not have time to visit, so we are the extended family.”
Imagine the anticipation, the impact, the significance of those scheduled Sunday encounters.
Usually three CROP volunteers participate in each worship service. One will sing, another will teach, and a third will coordinate. Jimmy Breedlove and Andy Crawford coordinate this ministry for CROP.
Volunteers are people “with a passion to do God’s will in their life and desire to minister to others utilizing the talents God as provided them,” Saccane explains. “They are committed to going the second-mile for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Does the effort make a difference? Is it worthwhile?
“We are providing a corporate worship service that otherwise would not be available to these residents,” the coordinator notes. “From time to time, several have shared with our team how grateful they are to be able to have such an experience.”
CROP’s ministry at Emeritus has touched about 6,700 individuals since it began in 1999, not counting the 18-or-so visited each week who have Alzheimer’s. Adding in those who receive weekly prayer or a home visit, CROP has touched more than 57,000 people — and has seen lives and circumstances changed through prayer.
“It is our responsibility to be living proof of a loving God to a watching world,” Saccane says. “And we’ll keep doing this as long as God calls volunteers to reach out to folks and minister in His name.”
Sagemont Church is located at S. Sam Houston Pkwy E. at I-45. The pastor is Dr. John Morgan.