It was a bitter-cold Saturday evening just before Christmas in December of 2009. My family and I were snuggled in for the evening when our telephone rang. The Jr. High Principal of our local school was calling with very sad news. An eleven year old girl had been found by her older brother; she had apparently taken her own life.
The superintendent (a Christian man) and all three principals were meeting that evening in order to determine how to handle the Monday and Tuesday before the Christmas break in light of this tragic event. They called to ask if I would be willing to organize counselors and ride the young girl’s bus on Monday. I grabbed my Bible and headed over to the school.
When I arrived at the school I was welcomed in, invited to pray, and asked to offer any input, ideas or suggestions. The officials walked me through the plans they had made, listened intently to the Scriptures I shared, and again invited me to close the meeting in prayer. Per their request, on Sunday afternoon I phoned several local pastors inviting them to join me at the school on Monday. Only one offered to come.
On Monday morning I rode the little girl’s bus and found myself “counseling” the children and their driver all the way to school. When we arrived at the school I discovered that the grade school principal had met with the teachers and faculty sharing the same thoughts and Scriptures that I had shared with them on Saturday night. She had also asked the other pastor to pray for the faculty, the students, and the days ahead of them.
The rest of that day was filled with Biblical counsel, Scripture sharing, and earnest prayer. It was not only the children though. Many of the teachers and faculty and even some bus drivers came by or stopped me in the halls in order to visit and express their appreciation for my being there. This is just another amazing example of God opening unexpected doors for the furtherance of the Gospel and the ministry of His Word! Which by the way “goeth forth out of His mouth and it shall not return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it.”
I have served as an IFCA pastor since 2000 and as an IFCA Chaplain with the Iowa State Patrol since 2006. During that time I have watched God turn tragic situations into amazing opportunities for the Gospel. I have watched with joy as hard hearts soften and seemingly unapproachable doors fly wide open.
Let us go back to June of 2006. I was sitting at a large round supper table at the National Convention. I was waiting to see who I would have the joy of sharing a meal with on this particular occasion. I had no idea what was ahead when Chaplain Ken Gaydos sat down beside me. As we enjoyed our meal he began asking me questions like “What is the general employment of the people in your church?” and “What kinds of things are you doing as a church to reach out to the community around you?”
For two years leading up to this meal I had heard Warren Dane speak of the many opportunities Chaplaincy presents. I had been thinking about it, wondering if I had what it takes, and praying. By the end of our meal I was realizing that in some ways I had already been performing the function of a Chaplain. How? Within the body of our local congregation we had police officers, prison guards, nurses, firemen, and on occasion, a deputy or a State Patrolman in attendance!
Serving as a Chaplain has stretched me personally and become an important part of our church’s outreach. Working with those whom Romans 13:4 describe as a “minister of God to thee for good” has been an absolute delight. Seizing the opportunities presented through Police Chaplaincy have expanded the influence of God’s Word, not only in our community but in our county, and because of my role with the Iowa State Patrol that influence is now reaching state wide.
The interesting thing about “salt” and “light” is that they impact, affect, and influence everything they touch! Chaplaincy is a great way to increase the saltiness of your ministry and the illuminating of God’s Word in your part of our sin-darkened world!
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