DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The God Whisperer

Written by: on November 30, 2018

I was sitting with one of my beautiful Hospice patients last week, providing the gift of ‘presence’ to a lonely Alzheimer’s patient, when she looked at me and said with unusual clarity, “You are a God-Whisperer!”  I was so taken aback, as this is a lady who generally only speaks in ‘word-scramble’ and is usually what we term as ‘aware of self only.’  But I immediately fell in love with the term – and I’m claiming it!   What a gift this person gave to me ~ an acknowledgement that I truly do make a difference in my patient’s lives.

I have learned over time through my patients that the worst thing isn’t being lonely ~ it is being forgotten!  So many of my patients with Alzheimer’s have been left on their own by their family, because family members often think that the patient doesn’t know they are present anyway.  But just like in the movie, “The Notebook,” there are moments of clarify within patients with cognitive deficits – and those times are truly special for family as well as for the patient.  A light glows from within the patient as a moment of clarity opens up for them, and when family is there, it is such a gift for everyone in the room.  But Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease to watch, and because of that, family often stop in to visit from time to time and may stay for only a few moments with their loved one. Such a loss for the patient – and the family members.

As I pondered the focus of the authors in the book, Who Needs Theology, the answer to this question is, of course, everyone!  If someone is a thinking person who reflects on life’s ultimate questions and who is a Christian, they are doing theology.[1]   The authors noted that if you seek to understand the meaning of faith for answering life’s ultimate questions or simply answering basic questions about growing in relation to God, you are a Christian theologian.  The ancient Athenian philosopher Socrates held the motto that ‘the unexamined life isn’t worth living.’[2]

Theology comes from two Greek words:  theos, which means God, and logos, which means thought.  So, theology means ‘God thought.’[3]   Yet, how do we know how God thinks?  Well, obviously the Bible is our blueprint.  I also love sharing stories with my patients about God’s love to help them understand whom they are in Christ.  One story I often share is a story about when I was widowed when I was young – very unexpectedly and for which I was very unprepared.  But this story has always been precious to me – and I’ve shared it often with my patients as well as at their funerals.

When I was widowed with a young family, my life was very confused.  One day, someone asked me which of my children was my favorite.  I think they meant who was easiest or who helped the most, but that was not what they asked.  The question was “who is your favorite?”  My response was a Holy Spirit impartation, I truly believe, because it was immediate, and I answered, “whoever needs me most right at that moment in time is my favorite!”  I share that story often with my patients, as I truly believe that when we are at our weakest, God is at His strongest.  And so, I get to help hurting individuals know that – at that exact moment in time – they are God’s favorite!

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Theology is faith seeking understanding.[4]  A final quote from author Jen Pastiloff, which clarifies what I strive for as a final title for my life on this earth: “When I get to the end of my life and ask one final, ‘What have I done?’ ~ let my answer be:  I have done LOVE!”


[1] Stanley Grenz and Roger Olsen, Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 24

[2] Ibid, 26.

[3] Ibid, 14.

[4] Ibid, 24.

About the Author


Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

7 responses to “The God Whisperer”

  1. mm Rhonda Davis says:

    Nancy, you are such an inspiration, and I am confident you are certainly God’s favorite. I appreciate your question regarding how God thinks. It seems you have come to some good conclusions about that in the way you have built your life from the blueprint of Scripture. It is wonderful that we are able to call on good theology to lead people to God when they need it most – in their pain – not just in academic musings. One of the things I appreciated most about this book was the fact that it made theology accessible to everyone, even those suffering in the forgottenness of dementia. Thank you for the way you bring theology to life.

  2. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    You are a God Whisperer! You whisper his love to all that you meet and all that know you. I am blown away by your post and your story. Your quote of 2 Corinthians 12:9 and what I know of your ministry exemplifies your faith and practice. Dear Friend, continue to claim your calling as a God Whisper as you continue to make a life changing difference in the lives of your patients. Continue to practice your good theology, H

  3. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    This is such a powerful parallel, Nancy. I appreciated the thought behind memory and understanding. This is such a powerful connection – especially as we have moments of theological breakthrough, as one suffering from dementia might. Thanks for making me think differently about theological insights!

  4. mm Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, you know I appreciate all of the work you do with Dementia patients since my mother is going through the same thing. I thank God for the grace God gives to the least of these; those seeking understanding.

  5. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thank you Nancy for you great ministry. you are tuly doing a practical ministry leadeing based on your personal experience and looking at God’s work and how vulnarable people vould be handled. I am touched by your inspiration and passion for your profession. You took a profession with a purpose. Your connection of the theology issues is well coordinated. Thank you.

  6. Thank you Nancy for sharing your experience with the patient, you truly are a God-Whisperer and what a great way to learn from your patient. That is so affirming for you and it’s an opportunity for us to share in your experience and learn to be God-whisperers in our context. I love the way you relate your experience with who needs Theology, I totally agree with you that everyone needs Theology.

  7. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    What a gift you are Nancy. Next Monday, our church choir is Christmas Caroling at a local dementia unit in a long term care facility. I hope our singing can “whisper God” to the patients.

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