When the father of South Africa’s democracy, the late Nelson Mandela, took ill in 2013, it brought to light the health care needs of the country’s elderly. An article by Anita Powell, Mandela’s care spotlights S. Africa healthcare needs for elderly, indicated that South Africa’s elderly population is at an all-time high – about five percent of South Africans are over the age of 65.
However, the nation’s growing elderly population is becoming increasingly marginalised as most health care programmes are focused on the young. The elderly are traditionally revered in South African society, reads the article, but in the past few decades, South Africa’s elderly have taken on a new role as they shoulder the responsibilities of a generation lost to AIDS. Many South African households are now headed by the elderly.
What does this then mean for us younger South Africans? And how do we, as New Apostolic Christians, labour in love for our senior members and elders?
During the New Year’s Day service, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider reminded us that we live in such a connected society of communication and yet we all have so little time. Having time for others and helping in concrete ways is important, he said to members, adding that faith in Jesus Christ is exhibited through works produced by love. Concrete actions for the benefit of our neighbour are a firm component of our preparation for the return of Christ. To love our neighbours, which includes our senior members and the elderly, also means to share their burdens, in other words, to help alleviate the things that bring them suffering.
During the month of February, the NAC, South East Africa region, celebrated our senior members, who have remained steadfast through the most difficult of times and who continue to encourage others with their unwavering support. In order to assist in coping with the realities of advancing age and future existence, our senior members are cared for through frequent personal visits and support by their ministerial leaders.
Snippets of some of the activities:
On Thursday January, 23, Apostle Joubert held a senior members event in Gezina. Accompanied by Bishop Naudé and the district leaders of these two districts, District Elders Hinrichsen and Smedt, arranged a fellowship with the senior members of their respective districts. The Apostle discussed and shared with them important aspects of the Holy Spirit and its revelations in our lives today as is explained and outlined clearly in our New Apostolic Church Catechism. In line with the theme of labour in love, the Apostle also expressed his desire that we hold each other up in prayer.
On Saturday January 18, Apostle Page visited sister Evelyn Hodgkiss, a 90 year old pioneer of faith at her home in Walkerville, Johannesburg, accompanied by her Priest, Vincent Plaaitjies. The Apostle and Sister Hodgkiss spoke about many things, including the proud moment of her confirmation. In addition, when she was 13, she also read a special farewell poem during a divine service to the then Assistant Chief Apostle H F Schlaphoff in Salt River on July 9, 1936, wishing him well on an upcoming trip to the United States.