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As We Age

As We Age
“So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him”
Philippians 2:29

In one of the countries where I served, elderly people were revered, joyfully honored. This could be seen in how they were addressed. When a man reached a certain age, they were given a new title. Instead of Bwana (Mr.) they were called Mzee (elder or old man).  

Having grown up in a culture where growing old seemed to be something to dread or hide or be embarrassed about, it took me a long time until I could comfortably call someone Mzee. After all, in my passport country, I wouldn’t dare call an older man “old man!”

Little by little, I grew to love the distinction that elderly men were given by the change in title. It communicated a deep respect, an admiration, a gratefulness for their years lived and wisdom gained. It meant they were worth sitting with and listening to. It was a beautiful way to honor them! 

As my parents are now in a season of life where they not only have grandchildren but great-grandchildren, how can I best honor them? My siblings and I often strongly suggest what we think they should or shouldn’t do as they age. They should stop driving. They should move to a smaller home. They should use a meal delivery service. Some of our suggestions are considered, some are ignored. Some are important, some are not. 

Perhaps, more important than stating changes they should make, is to joyfully sit with them and listen to them. Perhaps, I’ll start calling my dad Mzee

“So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him” Philippians 2:29 

Closing Prayer
Our heavenly Father, you are all-wise, all-knowing, all-loving! Thank you for the elderly people we cross paths with and are blessed to help care for. May we honor them. May we sit with them and listen to them. May we remember that they are made in your image. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Question for Reflection

If you have aging parents, has caring for them changed your ministry as a global worker?

Karen Bradley
March 29, 2024

As my parents age, I’ve tried to consider how to best care for and support them. My role as a global worker has recently changed from an assignment “on the field” to “global remote” which has made spending time with them easier since we now live in the same country. I often feel I should spend more time helping care for the day to day needs of my parents, but I try to call them several times a week and spend time with them every few months.