Russell helping uplift elderly with church service

REACHING OUT: Every Sunday a group of Komani residents conduct church services for residents at Madeira Home and Huis John Vorster. The services started during lockdown after ministers could no longer go to the homes to have services for the elderly Picture: ZINTLE BOBELO

Covid-19 has upended many lives, changing how we do business and socialise. In these trying times, some Komani residents have kept senior citizens in their hearts and have reached out to try and ease the isolation which has become a part of everyday life.

Local business leader, Sean Russell, has been conducting ‘church’ services for Madeira Home and Huis John Vorster residents. Pavement Ministries, as it has come to be known, is an interdenominational service that visits the homes every Sunday.

The short services have a few hymns, a prayer and word and are conducted in front of the homes from a loudspeaker. Russell said he started the services during the first lockdown and has never looked back.

“We started during the very first lockdown. I felt the old-age home people needed services. I spoke to all the ministers in town and at some stage we had 10 or 12 all being part of the services. There used to be services for old-age homes but they had to stop because of lockdown. Sometimes we have a couple of people and sometimes it is just me and my sons.

“As the lockdowns varied the number of ministers has decreased because some are now conducting services at their churches. Lihai Bircovich of the Presbyterian Church, Mike Watson of Queenstown Baptist and Bill Watt-Pringle from the Tarkastad Presbyterian Church rotate weekly. They pre-record the messages for me and we come and share them,” said Russell.

The services have become popular with the residents who gather outside for the services.

“We do not go on rainy days, but they have been few and far between. But every other Sunday we are here – winter, snow or cold. I have always been surprised how people just come out, especially at Madeira. They sit with their little blankets and support each other. The not so frail will help another and all the staff also join. It has been a blessing and I love it. It has its challenges but it is worth it.”

Russell said he hoped to include those in hospitals in the future. “My dream is to try and expand it to places like hospitals. I would like to go to Frontier and the private hospitals. As much as it can be a load I understand how lonely it can be when you are in hospital because I have had it myself.”

The services are outside Madeira Home at 11am and 11.45am at Huis John Vorster.

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