Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 11:10 pm
Church of God
Weekly Update 11 Mar 2007
Choice Christian greetings!
As chaplains around the world know, often it is the routines of ministry that significantly touch people. We may not feel like making that needed phone call to a hurting individual; or filling out those monthly reports to be sent to the Chaplains Commission. But, the bottom line is the fact that if we are unfaithful in these little things, God seldom assigns to us the big, more critical task. I learned this in a most meaningful way at one of my earliest chaplaincy assignments in the late 1950s at the Central State Mental Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee. I was assigned there as the first paid (approximately $100 a month) chaplain. Up to that time, local pastors gave ceremonial coverage to the more than 2,000 patients; some of them who had lived on this large campus for more than 35 years. In a sense, in this part-time clinical assignment, I began to be introduced to some basic principles of the “necessary routines” of chaplaincy. I learned with these very sick patients the basic rules of chaplaincy ethics, integrity and trustworthiness. If you said to one of these patients that you would visit them at 3 p.m., showing up at 3:05 was not acceptable. They would time and again remind me of that reality. Among these folks, you developed sermons that were well thought out and free of exaggerations. On a given Sunday, more than 800 of the 2,000 patients showed up for worship. They assembled in a large gymnasium, the women on one side and the men on the other side; and, depending on the level of their medication and other circumstances, you could either have a depressed service or one almost totally out of control. Routine, rituals and simplicity was the order of the day. One time, I was trying to be cute in my sermon introduction, so I stated, “Guess who was the oldest man in the Bible to ever live?” Little did I know that starting the sermon with a question would end in an almost uncontrollable riot! People all over the congregation began to answer me. One screamed out, “It was Moses!” Another said, “Abraham!” and the list went on. After awhile, some of the more agitated patients began to scream at other agitated patients; you guessed it, it took 15 minutes to get order restored; and you can imagine that my sermons never again began with a hypothetical question!
So, I want to thank all of you for attending well to the “simple and little things” of chaplaincy. Sometimes, it is the little things that allow those we serve to get through a very complex, and often confusing, day. One of those patients at Central State Hospital taught me the value of the routines of life. Her name was Myrtle; she had been there for more than 25 years when I arrived. She lived in one of the small cottages on the large hospital grounds. She was very depressed; most likely schizophrenic and with many other deep, troubling diseases. The only way we could encourage her to get up in the morning, to begin every day and get through it, was to remind her that “Myrtle, you have got to get up; if you do not water the flowers outside your cottage, they are going to die.” It was this small, seemingly insignificant routine of life that got her through each day. Thank God for chaplains who attend to these small things; being faithful in them opens the door for the Lord to use you as a missionary of care for larger areas of care and chaplaincy. Continue to pray for our chaplains around the world, attending to the small and large critical areas of need.
MILITARY CHAPLAINCY NEWS:
1. Retired Army Chaplain Randy Imhoff, Carthage, New York, gives us this update concerning Sheena, his daughter who was in an automobile accident some months ago. He notes: “Sheena is doing well. They have given her a muscle relaxer because of the shaking in her left arm. Continue to keep her in your prayers. I have a good testimony concerning Father Dan, an Episcopal Priest for whom we have all been praying. He is now walking with the use of a cane. The feeding tube was removed last week, and he is on a regular diet. It looks as if he will be discharged this Friday. We thank God for His healing power. Continue to keep him and Sheena in your prayers.”
2. Army Chaplain (CPT) Jerry David Hall, Baumholder, Germany, notes: “We just finished a wonderful retreat which I called, “Spiritual Reintegration, Reconstitution, Renewal and Revival.” Army Chaplain (COL) Richard Pace’s wife, Brenda, and Chaplain (MAJ) Joseph Melvin led our daily break-out groups. The theme for the break-out groups was, “No Weapon Formed Against Us Shall Prosper.” The Lord blessed every service. We hope this program will become standard for the reintegration of our soldiers when they return from deployment. The youth choir was under the direction of my son, David Hall, III.”
3. Army Chaplain (MAJ) Joseph Melvin, Baumholder, Germany, reports: “We just finished a successful Protestant Women of the Chapel Conference. Linda, my wife, is one of the leaders in our area. This past week, we led a Single Soldier Strong Bonds Training Program with 40 in attendance.”
4. Army Chaplain (CPT) Jeff Bartels, Fort Riley, Kansas, sent this report: “I completed a couples’ retreat for 20 couples from my Battalion. One of the couples attending noted, Thank you for having this retreat. Our marriage was almost over, but this retreat has saved it.”
5. Army Chaplain (CPT) Dasha Somaratna, serving in Iraq, reports: “I had the opportunity to meet and fellowship with another Church of God Chaplain, Chaplain (CPT) Barron Wester.”
6. Army Chaplain (LTC-P) Charles Howell, Washington, D.C., notes: “There are persons in our area that desperately need prayer. A couple who lost a son in Iraq, a new baby with blood infections, a senior citizen with many illnesses and the list goes on. Also, we hosted Chief of Chaplains (MG) David Hicks as speaker at our prayer breakfast. The auditorium was packed and we filled two over-flow rooms.”
1. We just heard from our Chaplaincy Coordinator for Romania, Dr. Radu Tirle. He tells us that our new Medical/Chaplaincy/Care Center, $500,000 facility, will be completed within the next several months. This center will provide medical care for thousands of needy individuals, especially Gypsies, a training center for our vast Romanian chaplaincy ministries and a place whereby benevolence goods will be given to the poor.
2. French Military Chaplain Michel Layes sent this report: “One of our soldiers fell during a mountain exposition and was killed; a second soldier, who had burn-out syndrome, took his own life; and a third soldier, while on duty on the motorway, fell and was struck by a 35-ton truck. Keep these families, my soldiers and their families in your prayers.”
3. Ireland Chaplain John Walsh testifies, “Last weekend, I ministered among the bikers in Dublin. We were able to tell them of Christ, hand out Bibles and tracks and touch them with the Gospel.”
1. We currently have a Disaster Response Chaplaincy Team at Enterprise, Alabama. As you know, a massive tornado destroyed a high school, several subdivisions and took the lives of many students and others. Our current disaster team leader, Chaplain Kathryn Schuck, reports: “I received a note from one of the families we worked with following the tornado. She stated, It is people like your group, willing to help us in time of need that gives us hope and strength. In another situation, I had the opportunity to listen to a 7-year-old tell me how it was to be face down with his 7-month-old sister and his mom as the tornado passed. His mom told me she does not believe in God, but God had to be there! Chaplains are here because this is where people are hurting; we are here to listen and give the ministry of presence.”
2. Community Service Chaplain John Adams, Birmingham, Alabama, reports: “I was part of the five-member rapid response team that was dispatched to the Florida tornado disaster. We were able to minister to hurting individuals, giving them water, food and other basic supplies.”
3. Prison Chaplain Joseph Miller, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, states: “God is blessing our training class for inmates. I have 14 men in the class preparing for some type of ministry when they complete their prison time. Some of these men, who are called to the ministry, will not be released from prison unless a miracle takes place. Their ministry will primarily be that of evangelizing this institution.”
4. Prison Chaplain Carol Johnson, Long View, Washington, states that she is ministering in an area that is called the “Meth” capitol of the I-5 corridor. She goes on to say: “We are seeing more persons in our jails and prisons. We seem to be a town in fear of drug-related attacks. The weapons of choice of these new threats are knives and baseball bats. Only Jesus can turn this around. I am not discouraged; look what God is doing through all our ministries!”
5. Clinical Chaplain Richard Gilbert, Portland, Oregon, reports, “I was able to minister to the family of one of our employees whose daughter-in-law unfortunately took her life. Just to be able to offer support to family and friends of the victim was most meaningful. The family had no pastoral support or affiliation with a denomination. I conducted the funeral of this young lady, only 24 years old.”
6. Clinical Chaplain Gerald Smith, Titusville, Florida, reports: “I have the opportunity to work in some unique areas. Last week, I conducted the memorial service for a NASA employee who had helped designed the Lunar Survey Module. This vehicle paved the way for the first moon landing. In another memorial service for a NASA employee, I learned that he was in the main computer for the first shuttle launch, among others. It is like working with history, first hand.”
As we often say, the above reports tell the real story of our chaplaincy outreach. It is comforting to know that we now have 2,500 trained, highly committed chaplains who are caring for those who are in desperate need within our local churches, in the agencies of our communities and in some most unusual places. Who cares for the workers and the travelers at airports? Chaplains do! Who cares for the almost 2 million incarcerated in the United States? Chaplains do! Who cares for our senior citizens, often forgotten, confined to nursing homes and other care facilities? Chaplains do! Who cares for our troops in harm’s way? Chaplains do, with unbelievable spiritual results! So it goes without saying, somewhere at an altar of prayer, God spoke to one of our sons and daughters and called them to go “outside the gates” to care for thousands of individuals who will never darken the doors of our local churches or sit on our pews. They are what my good friend Max Morris says, “Love extended.” I am blessed personally, and the Church is blessed corporately, for having so many highly dedicated chaplains and their family members.
Dr. Robert D. Crick
Director, Chaplains Commission
Director’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office email: Chapcm@bellsouth.net
Categories: Weekly Update