Inter Faith Week reminds us of the importance of strengthening good interfaith relations with members of our communities and understanding how we can improve the work we do, and the services we provide, for everyone.
This week, we spoke to Pastor Kelvin, a friend of the hospice and pastor at a south east London Pentecostal church. Earlier this year, he visited the hospice and spoke to staff about the Pentecostal* community and a common imbalance that exists, between the faith and perceptions of hospice care; which prevents some people from accessing our care and support when they need it.
There are lots of reasons why this can happen. In many countries, when a person nears the end of their life, it is part of their culture for family and loved ones to care for that person at home. This means they may not be getting all the support they need – such a pain relief, emotional or wellbeing support. This is the case in the Nigerian community, which makes up a substantial portion of the Pentecostal community in our part of London.
We asked Pastor Kelvin, ‘when it comes to faith and hospice care, what does the Pentecostal faith teach?’
He said “The Pentecostal faith teaches clearly that the Lord can heal any sickness and disease. And so for this reason there can be a reluctance to accept hospice care, in favour of their faith and they will wait for God to heal them.
“Faith is strong, so sometimes people don’t understand when God is saying it is their time to go.” He continued, “Life and death are both established in the bible. There is a time to be born and a time to die. So Pentecostals shouldn’t be afraid, they should prepare for it. And that is where the hospice can play a role.”
Seeking support from a hospice doesn’t mean a lack of faith
“In the bible, God tells people to ‘prepare their household, you’re going to go soon’. And today, that is the time to accept hospice care.”
Reassuringly, Pastor shared that in the bible there are examples of people at end of life who received care and examples like this should put people’s minds at ease.
Pastor Kelvin shared his thoughts on the work that we’re doing and how we can support members of the Pentecostal faith to engage with hospice.
What are the barriers to accessing hospice care?
The challenges aren’t just around the interpretation of faith, Pastor reminds us that there are also misconceptions around the perceived role of the hospice in the community. And because of that, sadly, many members of the Pentecostal community who would benefit from our services may be refusing our care and support as a result.
He spoke more about the misconception of faith and that people have faith and a lack of biblical understanding of what faith is.
“Some people see ‘faith’ as believing in what they want to happen, and watching that unfold. This is actually having faith in your own will, thoughts and decisions, rather than faith in God.” Pastor Kelvin was clear to point out that faith is trusting in Christ alone, who is in control of a believer’s life and knows what is best and when it’s time to be healed or to leave the earth to be with Him. Whilst waiting on God, help is available for all and things can be put in place which will not change the healing.
Another challenge is around misconceptions of the role of a hospice and the support it can provide. People think that we only help people at end of life and they don’t realise the range of support that is on offer to the patient and to their loved ones. And because of their faith, they do not accept that they will die, ‘so why go to a hospice? God will heal’.
How do we start to overcome these challenges?
Pastor shared his thoughts about starting to bring the community closer to the hospice and advocates for more outreach work to raise community awareness to reach people in need now and those who might need the hospice in the future.
We’d like to thank Pastor Kelvin for his time and support, and look forward to our ongoing work.
If you would like to know more, or have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
*At the hospice, we’re working to improve our connection with this community because we know that there is a reluctance to accept vital hospice care and support. And we are working hard to change that because we want everyone to feel confident to access our services when they need it.