By Rev. Baron C. Mashack, Senior Pastor, 15th Avenue Church of God
There are moments in life that change everything. Such a moment happened in our family in the mid-80’s when my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Almost immediately she lost her balance while walking and slowly over time could only do so with assistance. Not too long after her diagnosis, my dad pinched a nerve in his neck operating a jackhammer while working for the New York City Highway Department. Eventually, he too was walking with the assistance of a cane.
Watching this happen to your well abled-bodied parents, as a teenager, can be devastating. However, I knew that one day, as the oldest child, I would be the one to take care of them. That opportunity would come in January of 2000. Now married with children, we moved them into our suburban Atlanta home. It wasn’t easy on my wife, who was graciously giving up her home to help take care of my parent, nor for my children who assisted their grandparents in countless ways.
Upon receiving the call to Pastor the 15th Avenue Church of God in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we picked up our family and moved to South Florida. The journey became more difficult with more trips to the doctor, more medication, and more complications. My mother could no longer move without assistance and my dad had issues with diabetes, high blood pressure, and prostate cancer. Emotions ran high discussing other living options and having the dreaded “taking the keys” conversation. However, the journey came to an end as my mom passed in December 2012 and my dad passed in November 2014. The 15-year journey was over and the promise I made was fulfilled.
Caring for our parents was a labor of love, but it was labor nonetheless! There are thousands of Caregivers who sacrifice their time, the energy, and their homes to care for the ones they love, and they need support! According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 approximately 43.5 million caregivers provided unpaid care to an adult or child.
Last year, I watched more families in our church struggle with giving care, and how much of a toll it took on them. It was then I decided to form LIFT, a caregiver Support program and ministry. The name LIFT was inspired by Moses’ battle with the Amalekites in Exodus chapter 17. When his hands were lifted the Israelites were winning. However, when he became tired and lowered them they began to lose. Aaron and Hur, the Bible says, helped to keep his hands lifted so they could win the victory!
That is what LIFT seeks to do! We seek to come alongside people who are growing weary in a noble battle to take care of the people they love. We will launch our first LIFT Session on Thursday, March 12th @ 7 p.m. Our guest will be Broward Country Elderly and Veterans Services. LIFT will take place every 2nd Thursday. To learn more go to www.jointheave.com or call (954)764-6841.