Sharon* is raising her grandson, Randy. His mother lost parental rights after endangering him. Sharon shared what happened to Randy and the next morning I was still thinking about the affects on the boy. Hearing his pain, and seeing his grandmother's tears, was difficult. Being the cop called to rescue Randy would be far more difficult.
Before John* retired, he was a cop rescuing children like Randy. Now retired, John shared the comfort he would have derived from having a chaplain ride in the cruiser with him. I'm a chaplain but Randy's story shook my confidence in being able to be much help to him, myself or any cop called to his aid. As I listened to John, I asked God for comfort from the memory of Randy's past.
My comfort came from Mark's* text, "Hey Alex, finally found a job. I'll be able to resume my contribution to your mission this month. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!" In the midst of joblessness and his own problems, Mark was thinking about outreach to first responders. As a support-based missionary, messages from prayer and financial supporters matter. Mark's remembrance of the chaplaincy encouraged me.
John's confidence in a chaplaincy reminded me of the training from the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC). We are taught that a chaplain is a minister of presence. Being with people in need, pain, transition and despair is work. Chaplains don't have to have the right words or do the right things. Often, just being with the people is what is most needed.
I was with Sharon when she told Randy's story. I held the silence while she wept. Even though we'd just met, Sharon's husband thought enough of our exchange to hug me before we parted ways. Full engagement with a hurting family changed me. Without the support of dozens of prayer and financial partners like Mark I would be more hesitant to do this work.
Because partners cover the work with prayer and financial support, follow up with families like Randy's is possible. Postage, mileage, literature and trainings are covered. ICPC membership dues are covered and give access to peers in the field. We share our chaplaincy stories with one another, therein finding comfort. Because of ministry partners, a cup of coffee or slice of pie, a book or paid parking meter can be offered to the retirees, families, cops or community members I meet. People like Mark help me serve people like John.
People like John help me serve people like Sharon. People like Sharon help me serve people like Randy. People like Randy make me appreciate people like John. People like John sometimes need a person like me. A person like me always needs to the One who made Sharon, John, Mark, and Randy.
* Not real name