The Walk to Chaplaincy
Something about how I felt when I visited a person at the hospital would slowly reel me into the life of hospital chaplaincy.
I would pass the small hospital chapel and stop to pray for those people I was visiting. I found solace in the plain simple room with one stained glass frame of praying hands. Watching the chaplains come and go, I told myself, “one day I will be working here as a chaplain.” I had no idea what that entailed, but after all the ministry I had done, in a way, it would be a relief.
In 2010, my husband and I left the wonderful work of Teen Challenge work and enjoyed a respite of rest and soul-searching. As I passed that hospital I knew that was where my next journey would be.
Several years before, I had an experience that etched into my heart that my life’s direction was changing. I was with three other women returning from a Bible Study in a rural road in Virginia. We came upon an eighteen-wheeler rig jack knifed in the road. I got out to see investigate. The driver was fine and pointed me to a station wagon. Moaning came from several people inside the car, and I could see a child, obviously dead in her seat. The parents were in shock. The paramedics soon came and pulled out the child, saying she was gone. By then the other women had followed me. As the little girl laid there, I comforted her mother. I had just received my ordination and when I said, “I am a minister.” She hugged us as we comforted her. We said a prayer and with that prayer, I began to sense a change of ministry.
So finally, I applied to enter a chaplaincy program. In my interview, the director told me I needed to be an intern chaplain first. The internship was a nine months unpaid position. I did not think I could afford to wait that long. In my heart, I knew this was for me. So, for the next few weeks I kept looking for something else, but I didn’t apply for any other job.
Just as we were running out of money, a call came from the chaplaincy program director and he wanted to have me by-pass the internship and start the chaplain residency, a paid job with all benefits. All I can say is God had orchestrated something so perfect that today I am still in awe of it all!
God had prepared me for chaplaincy all those years.
Teen Challenge was my training ground—from rescuing people from drugs, to being with a young alcoholic woman in withdrawal, to pleading with young men not to take their own lives. It was all in a day’s work.
So, being in the safe quarters of a hospital in my older years seemed the right thing to do. Of course, being a chaplain has its challenges, especially in the emergency room when you look at 20 people or so as they are told by the doctor their loved one has passed, or when dealing with a patient who is all alone in the world.
There comes a time when one ministry closes and another one opens. Sometimes you know when a new season is coming. For me, it took several years. I saw myself there in that hospital long before I was hired. I knew His plans were greater than I could imagine.
This new season rejuvenated my soul. It sparked new life in me. I learned new things about myself, about people, and I also shared my experiences with other chaplains.
I may not be a pastor of a church, but I have a big congregation. When people introduce me as their chaplain or minister, I feel very blessed. This is where I need to be at this time in my life.
For me every ministry gets better in a way, or maybe God gives us greater grace to do the work. Whatever it is, I am always open for God to change my season. He knows best. I walk in His paths. My prayer today, is use me, Lord, wherever and whenever you want.
For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the LORD is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.