Families who have extended stays in hospitals are in need of special ministry. In 2000 my husband was in the hospital for about 15 days due to an atypical pneumonia strand that almost cost him his life. If you have ever been through something like this then you know those are long, hard days.

During my stay, I found two things to be very helpful: a sustenance basket and a journal.

One of the Sunday School classes at my church brought me such a basket. A sustenance basket is a basket of snacks, coins for vending machines, and magazines to read to help pass the time. I don’t really know what you would call this type of basket, so I named it the “sustenance basket”. One of the definitions of sustenance is “something that gives support, endurance, or strength” (Merriam-Webster), and it is typically food and/or nourishment related. Long stays at hospitals can be financially draining because you are eating all of your meals away from home. The snacks and coins for vending were a big help to me.

The sustenance basket can be a great way for your small group, Sunday School class or church to minister to a family who is on extended stay at the hospital.


Contents may include:
Crossword Puzzles
Snack Cakes
Peanut Butter Crackers
Cheese and Crackers
Roll of Quarters

You can make a list of needed items and simply distribute them to your group. At the appointed time everyone can bring their donated items and once the basket is put together, you are ready to plan your hospital visit.

As for the journal, any will do. We simply used a notebook for Jamie (my husband). I journaled my thoughts, prayers and updates. He was intubated for a period of time, and it was helpful for him to use it to talk with us. There are even some funny notes recorded in it. When they first brought Jamie out of the medically induced coma, he wrote a long and detailed instructional for his twin brother, which was basically an escape plan. My husband has an unique sense of humor so we weren’t sure if he was just being funny or if he was being serious under the effects of his medication. He has no memory of writing that note to his brother. Regardless, it was a much needed form of comic relief for our situation.

On the anniversary of his recovery, we read through his journal, and thanked God for His healing and grace. It has become a treasured keepsake. Even if things had turned out differently, I believe I would still have been grateful for these written recordings.

The sustenance basket is an idea starter for a ministry project. What ideas do you have to build upon this one? What other ideas do you have to minister to families on extended stay at the hospital? I would love to hear them.

Here are some other idea starters for you to consider:

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Author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Ms. Duke also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.

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  1. I love this idea! If they family also has children to entertain in the waiting area coloring books/crayons and small activity books/pencils could be added as well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is such a helpful idea. Hospital stays can be lonely too! What a great project for the womens ministry to take on. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

    1. Cathy, it is a helpful idea and means so much to those whom are in that moment. I just delivered one to a new mom on extended stay for her preemie. I hope you have a great weekend, too!

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