Unreached People Group: Lonely People Near You

| March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

For new subscribers: Two times a month, Plain News sends out a short article called “Unreached People Group,” which focuses on people who have little to no Christian witness among them. Usually this is a people group in lands far away from our homes in North America, but occasionally we focus on people who are nearer. Welcome aboard, as we now turn our attention to such a group.

Who in the United States is lonely? A 2018 survey of 20,000 adults by insurance company Cigna found that just under half of the respondents said they “sometimes or always feel alone.” Just over one fourth reported that they “rarely or never” feel that people really understand them. Barely over half of the respondents reported that they have a daily meaningful conversation with someone. Another interesting aspect of this is that the so-called Generation Z (ages 18-22) had the highest rate of loneliness, and those who never used social media had the lowest rate of loneliness. This indicates that the best relationships are found in more direct communication, not virtual friendships.

Given the breakdown of the family in our culture, it is only natural that people feel lonely. Instead of being a refuge from the storm, sometimes homes convert into just another blast of cold air on relationships, if not a tornado.

While this survey is subjective (meaning the people gave their own answers, which may not be truly indicative of their real condition), it does show that many people have trouble relating with others in meaningful ways. This may be their own fault many times. However, let us not write people off if they are what is termed a “high-maintenance relationship.” This means it takes a lot of effort to keep a good relationship going.

A particular incident spurred me to choose this unreached people group. Just a couple of days ago, a man who lives just a few miles from me took his own life. I did not know him, but someone from church did, someone who had reached out to this lonely man. How do we know that he was lonely? He reportedly said that the man who reached out to him was “the only friend he had.”

I will finish this with some simple suggestions. With the new virus coming around and the social distancing being recommended, loneliness levels will (most likely) naturally be higher. Hospitals, rest homes, and prisons will be shut down to visitors. Consider this, and take some time each day to write or call someone in these institutions.

Some older people will be confined more to their homes to avoid picking up the virus. Think of creative ways to let them know you care, without becoming a means to infect them with a virus. While we need to practice good social distancing for their health (the CDC recommendation of six feet may be best extended to ten feet for the vulnerable), we also need to remember that they are people who need human interaction. Perhaps a visit through a window (maybe by phone), or a daily walk by their house to at least wave at them, will let them know that you care.  Singing as a family outside someone's house could also be a blessing.

Finally, being friendly and being a friend are not exactly the same thing. Being a friend will mean extending some of your time. It may mean using your time and energy to maintain a high-maintenance relationship. It may mean spending lots of time to slowly win the confidence of someone who has been burnt one too many times with past bad relationships. Remember that some people may react to your well-meaning attempt to be a friend; be patient. One Plain person related to me that it took her more than a year to gain the full, deep confidence of a new sister in her church who had been through a divorce before joining the church. It cost her a lot of energy and time, but she now has a genuine friend! I think both of them are very happy; by being a friend, she gained a friend. And a true friend is a valuable commodity in this lonely world.

~Mike Atnip

Category: Public

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