I had an odd spiritual experience in Las Vegas this weekend where I was signing copies of my book at AARP’s Vegas @50+ Expo. My publisher, Upper Room Books, had scheduled several book signing events throughout the day so I could meet and greet older adults from across the nation.
As I signed one woman’s name in a book, she leaned over and said something that caught my attention. “I’m so glad to finally see a Christian organization here. I’m going to fill out my evaluation and tell AARP that it’s about time!”
Turns out, the woman had attended many other AARP events, and this was the first time she’d remembered visiting a booth that addressed the spiritual needs of older adults. Her comment seemed to support something I’d already heard. That Upper Room was indeed breaking new ground as an Expo sponsor.
Now I don’t claim to understand all the business issues involved in such a decision, but the woman’s comment certainly made me think.
Throughout the day, I had witnessed aging Boomers and even-older adults carrying bags stuffed with promotional freebies. Some would glance over to the Upper Room booth in casual disinterest.
But then there were the many older adults in power chairs, grown children with aging parents, Sunday School teachers and church volunteers who specifically sought out the Upper Room booth. They came, many wearing both cross necklaces and their AARP name badges around their necks. They left, smiling and offering words of encouragement and blessing. One man and his wife, a UMC lay minister from New York, even stayed at the end of the day to offer a prayer for this ministry.
The event reminded me of the enormous mission field that exists within the fast-growing population of older adults. At the same time, it buoyed my spirits to witness the misty eyes and tender hearts of so many older adults who came, sharing their faith along with their own stories about aging.
One thing I know for sure. What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. I am confident many folks left the Neon City with a renewed passion for encouraging senior adults, and each other, on this spiritual journey of life. I know I did.