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More than ever, clown says, ‘a merry heart doeth good’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Janis Roberts has always believed Proverbs 17:22, but since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September that verse has taken on new meaning.

“Now, more than ever, we know a merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” she told participants in a session on hospital ministry during the National Creative Arts Festival, Nov. 8-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

“We can be happy because we know our redeemer lives and is in control,” she told fellow creative artists.

Roberts, a clown and entertainer from Ocilla, Ga., said while clowning at hospitals is designed to cheer patients and their families, some situations are inappropriate for clowning antics.

She told of walking through a hospital one day and noticing two persons standing outside a room, apparently very concerned about their loved one behind the closed door. Roberts, dressed as her alter ego, Clancey the Clown, walked on by the pair and simply smiled.

“Then I heard one of the people issue me an invitation by saying, ‘At least someone is happy today.’ I walked to their doorway, hugged one of the women and said to her, ‘Clowns cry, too.'”

Offering a list of tips for clowning for persons who are ill, Roberts suggested:

1) Glorify God; seek his will.

2) Get the cooperation of the hospital. Set an appointment with the appropriate authority. Tell them your goals, and make them sincere and realistic.

3) Always let the hospital staff know when you are coming, especially in light of today’s heightened security.

4) Learn the hospital rules, particularly those that relate to the kinds of items allowed in the hospital.

5) Ask if a nurse can make the rounds with you.

6) “Read” the hospital room to know how to conduct your ministry. Be aware of communicable diseases, open wounds and the need for sanitary conditions.

7) Do not diagnose the patient by telling them they will get well, and do not ever ask a patient when they are going home. Do not say you will be back if you will not.

8) Conversational “patter” is an important entertainment tool.

9) You may ask the patient if they would like you to pray with them.

10) Do not over-stay a visit; always leave them wanting more.

“Remember, the key words for hospital ministry are joy, cheer and sanitation,” Roberts quipped.

The LifeWay Church Resources Division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention sponsored the National Creative Arts Festival.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: FUN FACIAL, PAINTING UP A CLOWN, HELLO FROM BO-BO.

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  • Charles Willis