Full-time servants whose theocratic assignments have taken them far from home may face particularly difficult decisions. Those serving as Bethelites, missionaries, and traveling overseers all view their assignment as precious, as a blessing from Jehovah. Still, if their parents get sick, the first reaction might be, ‘We need to leave our assignment and return home to look after our parents.’ Yet, it would be wise to consider prayerfully whether that is what the parents really need or desire. No one should hastily give up service privileges, and it may not always be necessary. Could the health issue be temporary, one with which some in the parents’ congregation would be happy to help?—Prov. 21:5.
11 Consider, for example, the case of two fleshly brothers who served far from home. One was a missionary in South America, the other worked at world headquarters, in Brooklyn, New York. The brothers’ elderly parents needed help. The sons and their wives visited the parents in the Far East to see what help could best be provided and how. In time, the couple in South America were weighing leaving their assignment to return home. Then they received a telephone call from the coordinator of the body of elders in the parents’ congregation. Those elders had discussed the situation and wanted the missionaries to continue in their assignment as long as possible. The elders appreciated this couple’s service and were determined to do all they could to help them care for their parents. All in the family appreciated the loving concern.
12 Whatever strategy a Christian family adopts to care for the needs of elderly parents, all concerned will certainly want to make sure that it reflects well on God’s name. Never would we want to be like the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. (Matt. 15:3-6) We want our decisions to honor God and the congregation.—2 Cor. 6:3.
THE CONGREGATION’S RESPONSIBILITY
15 In some lands, governmental authorities provide pensions, welfare programs, and home-care attendants for senior citizens. (Rom. 13:6) Elsewhere, no such organized services exist. Hence, how much physical assistance relatives and the congregation need to provide for older brothers and sisters varies from situation to situation. If believing children live far from their parents, it may affect how much help the children reasonably are in a position to provide. The children would do well to communicate freely with the elders of their parents’ congregation to make sure that all understand the family’s circumstances. For instance, the elders may be able to help out by assisting the parents to learn about and benefit from governmental or social programs locally. They may also observe situations—such as unopened bills or mismanaged medication—that they can bring to the attention of adult children. Such well-motivated and kind interchanges of information can prevent a situation from getting worse and may well lead to practical solutions. Clearly, on-the-spot helpers and advisers, who effectively act as the children’s “eyes,” may alleviate the worries of a family.
16 Out of affection for beloved older ones, some Christians have volunteered their time and energy to meet whatever needs they reasonably can. They make it a point to show extra interest in older members of the congregation. Some volunteers divide the tasks with others in the congregation and care for older ones on a rotation basis. While realizing that their own circumstances do not allow them to engage in the full-time ministry, they are happy to assist the children to remain in their chosen careers as long as possible. What an excellent spirit such brothers show! Of course, their generosity does not relieve children of the responsibility to do what they can for their parents.