Age hasn’t weakened Jon Heavilin’s heart for ministry. If anything, it’s taught him true servanthood. Now in his late 80s, Jon serves as a chaplain in Marion General Hospital’s Emergency Room. He’s there to serve the servants, assisting nurses and doctors with whatever might be most helpful.
Jon started in 2009, when his son-in-law, a doctor at MGH, suggested the hospital could benefit from his help. Since then, Jon has been at his post 3 days a week.
Most mornings begin with a list of chores Jon carries out to assist the hospital staff: “Make the coffee, put out supplies, check patient charts to see which rooms need cleaned. If I find a room that needs to be cleaned, I wash the bed and put on clean sheets and put linens in the washroom,” Jon explains.
While the work is menial, it’s Jon’s attitude that makes the difference.
“I always keep my smile and chat with patients. I’ve learned to listen and make what responses need to be made,” shares Jon.
Jon knows the ER is not usually a comfortable place to be. “Sometimes, it takes a long time to get care in the ER. I let patients know they’re being cared for and they’re not forgotten.”
In the midst of high stress, Jon’s calming presence and whole-hearted service stands out.
“Patients want to know why I’m doing what I do, if I’m there as a minister. I tell them, ‘I am a minister, but I’m not here on that basis. I’m a volunteer.’”
Jon learned the basics of hospital routines during his time as a pastor. “When you’re a pastor of a small church, you do whatever you need to do. I knew hospitals and generally what to needs to be done.”
The majority of Jon’s formal ministry years were spent in Wisconsin, near his wife’s family. He pastored 4 churches and served as District Superintendent for 7 years.
After retiring, Jon moved back to his hometown of Marion, IN, where he began assistant teaching in the Senior Adult Class at College Wesleyan Church. After 30 years, Jon continues to teach the same group every Sunday.
When asked what keeps him coming back to his work at the hospital, Jon answered that he finds joy providing meaningful assistance to the nursing staff. Whether chatting with patients or cleaning beds, Jon says his work, “gives the nurses more time to spend with their patients.”
From formal ministry to local church involvement to his service at the hospital, Jon has learned the heart of servanthood. He is a servant among servants, a true example of Christ.
Gaby Garver is a 2016 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. Having studied International Relations in college, Gaby’s passion is refugee assistance. She currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey, where she volunteers with refugees and teaches English lessons. Her favorite pastimes are cooking for friends and camping.