For several years Dana Gruben and Ben Boland worked among those with dementia, conscious that there was a lack of biblical and spiritual resources to use as a component of their caring.
At the beginning of 2017, Dana enrolled in the Hub program run by Seed for Anglican Deaconess Ministries. Throughout the year she was introduced to Seed tools for discovery, design and growth. She had the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs like Wendy Simpson, and Karen James. She received personalised advice from Anne Robinson of Prolegis, and she received ongoing encouragement and prayer from her fellow Hub participants.
When she joined she had a prototype of a book that could be read by or with people with dementia, drawing on songs and ideas they could be recalled from childhood memories.
By the end of the year, she had a contract with a publisher.
Jesus loves me, was launched recently at St Andrew’s Cathedral by David Martin, representing HammondCare Press, and Greg Clarke, CEO of The Bible Society.
During her speech at the launch, Dana paid tribute to Seed and her time at The Hub as pivotal to enabling the book to be published.
“My time at the Hub has made a huge difference to me on this journey. Seed resources and guest speakers gave me a range of fresh ideas to help me shape my thinking, articulate my vision, understand my market, and see how my project could best fit into God’s plan for my life and for His world. As well, the relationships I formed in the Hub are an ongoing source of encouragement.”
The book presents the love of Jesus simply and clearly for older people, especially those who have dementia and struggle with memory.
Used one-on-one, individually or in a group, Jesus loves me can is effective for: reading and enjoying, engaging with the love of Jesus, accepting the love of Jesus, as well as prompting reminiscence.
Professor John Swinton, award winning author of Dementia: Living in the memories of God, has endorsed the resource, commenting that it “enables people with dementia and those offering support, to hold on to God even when the memory of God can seem elusive and difficult.”
Dana hopes that the book will have a significant impact, “I hope that Jesus loves me can make a difference on multiple levels. It is, first and foremost, a Gospel resource, and so I pray that it will help many people with dementia to meet Jesus and to trust Him. I hope as well that it can move people who do not have dementia to reconsider how the world measures what makes a person valuable and what makes a life worthwhile. Our society sets such store on productivity, attractiveness and independence, but these qualities are fleeting; God loves us because He made us and each one of us is precious because we bear His image.”
The book has been incorporated into a suite of resources called Faith for life, which acknowledges the profound dignity of the person with dementia, and their desire to express and explore faith while also recognising changing needs.
Dana and Ben have been asked to contribute more resources to the series and are now working on a Christmas book. “We have a companion book, Joy to the world, which could be ready soon! Both Jesus loves me and Joy to the world can be utilised among people with dementia by a variety of users: families and friends, churches and care providers. If these first two resources are well-received, we have ideas for even more books, forming a series particularly well-suited for use in aged-care settings,” explains Dana.
Jesus loves me is available from here: http://www.hammond.com.au/shop/faith-for-life/jesus-loves-me.