Serving the Generations

Serving the Generations

By Sarah Whitman/ Tampa Bay Faith

As Executive Director of the non-profit organization Faith Tampa Bay and a Chaplain with Angels Senior Living, J.P. Clouse serves two distinct community groups.

Working in senior facilities, Clouse ministers to men and women of the greatest generation. He listens intently to decades-spanning stories of love and loss. He offers prayer, humor and encouragement.

Leading Faith Tampa Bay, Clouse works within Title One schools to reach Generation Z. In four years, he has partnered with more than 30 schools, providing services to better the lives of faculty and students. Clouse works on school improvement projects, organizes volunteers to meet arising needs and, when asked, offers spiritual support.

“The thinking that if we can’t preach in schools, then we won’t be in the schools, that is just not acceptable to me,” said Clouse, a former youth pastor and mental-health therapy assistant.

Clouse said the Lord is always opening doors for ways to share the Gospel and connect people.

Many students he mentors are now involved in efforts to help seniors. In the past, students performed skits and visited Angels Living. More recently, they made items to keep quarantined residents in good spirits.

I spoke to Clouse about his work, serving the community in difficult times and bridging the gap between generations.

Can you tell me more about the work Faith Tampa Bay does in schools?

When I started, I really felt the Lord calling me to find a way to stay in our lane as a Christian organization but also be present in the schools. We have partnered with 33 schools but all in different ways. At some, we have donated time or service. At others, we are more involved and even have a weekly Bible study for teachers. We have remodeled 13 teachers lounges and will be working on Seminole Elementary’s over the summer.

What were you able to do during the shutdowns?

We have prayer boxes in the teachers lounges at 22 schools. So, when we weren’t able to go into the schools, we offered prayer online. Teachers and faculty could write to the page with requests. It was a huge thing during quarantine.

We did drive-thru teacher appreciations at four schools. We gave out chic-fila cookies and $5 Dunkin Donut gift cards. We also did drive-thru graduation events. We were cheering with our masks on and dancing to music. We set up balloons and gave out Polar Cups to any kids in the cars. Horns were honking like crazy.

You’ve worked with youth for many years, what led to your becoming a Chaplain for seniors?

It was totally a God thing. I knew the Chaplain who was retiring, my old pastor at Temple Heights Baptist Church, and he knew my schedule was flexible with Faith Tampa Bay. He asked me to come in and cover for him for a couple weeks. I did and I fell in love with the people.

Every time I go there (Angels Senior Living), I want to give blessings to the residents but I always feel like they are blessing me even more. They are sincere and encouraging. Their stories are amazing.

What is your role as a Chaplain?

I do weekly Chapel services. I wasn’t able to for a while because of quarantine safety measures but I recently started again, only I am hosting chapel services through the window. I bring my DJ equipment, put the speakers right up to the window and blast the sound.

Usually one of the main things I do is sit and visit with the residents. A lot of them don’t have family members that stop by. Others have family that visit weekly.

One man, Mr. Francis, is a World War II hero who saved many lives and has multiple medals. It is a privilege to know him. He is 96-years-old and accepted Christ at age 92. For most of his life he thought – If there was a God, why would he have had to witness the things he did. At 92, he realized there was a God who loved him.

That’s amazing.

He was ready. His family asked me to do his funeral when the time comes. It’s emotional. I know I will cry but I will also be joyful for him. He says to me now, “I’m ready when the Lord is ready for me.”

Update: Mr. Francis passed away on June 19

Due to COVID-19, many people have lost loved ones without getting to say goodbye or hold a funeral. Did you encounter that experience as a Chaplain?

No. No one had even tested positive from Angels Senior Living the last time I checked with them. They have taken every precaution.

Even though what I do is considered essential, they really looked at each staff member in the begin and asked, does this person really need to be here? The first few weeks of quarantine, I recorded a chapel message and put it on a thumb drive for the residents. I’m excited to be doing chapel live again, even if it is through the window. I miss them and I am praying for them.

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2 Replies to “Serving the Generations”

  1. Sending a thank you to JP from ?Massachusetts. We met at my sister Claire’s funeral last summer. She admired you. She respected you. She prayed with you and for you at the Senior Angels residence. I have followed you on FB and feel the same way as a fellow follower of Christ. I am in awe to see your school ministry

  2. JP is a true man of the Lord. My parents both loved his message in word and song,his sense of humor and of course the candy! May God continue to Bless You!