Just the Right Size

By Chaplain Bob Ishkanian

I serve the inmates as a CBAmerica Chaplain in a Florida prison. I am also a Gideon. I decided that I would do a Gideon Scripture distribution to all 1200 inmates. When they came out of the chow hall for lunch, I asked each one personally if they would like a copy of God’s word. About 250 said yes.Bob Ishkanian

One of the inmates that took one of our pocket New Testaments (let’s call him Jim) was a known drug dealer in the prison; one of your go-to men if you wanted to get high on something. You can get your hands on most drugs easier in prison than on the outside. There is a big profit to be made selling drugs in prison, more so than on the outside so that’s why some staff, some inmates and some visitors bring the drugs in. It’s big business and it’s everywhere.

One day Jim ran out of rolling paper for his joints. He later told me, as he looked at his pocket New Testaments, he figured out that the pages in it were just the right size and thickness to roll a perfect joint for resale. At the time he wasn’t sure how the print would affect sales or the taste of the joint, but that turned out not to be a problem! So starting with Matthew, he started to tear pages out of his testament and rolled his joints. He got up to the page that was around the third chapter of John. Hey, you can’t make this stuff up folks!  He started to read what was somewhat familiar verses from his childhood. Do I have to tell you what verse spoke to him?

Bob Ishkanian2He told me later he read that page several times, figured out what it was saying and committed his life to Christ. The next thing he did was to ask for a chaplain. He took several of my classes and still seems to be walking with the Lord. Bingo!!! Chalk another one up for the Holy Spirit where He promises in Isaiah 55:11 that “His Word shall not return unto Him void.” This kind of gives that verse a whole new meaning!



Chaplain Bob’s main prayer request is for “safety and God’s leading” in his ministry. Join me in praising God for His continued work in the lives of “the least of these” (Matt 25:40) who find themselves in prison.  Bob is one of 10 CBAmerica chaplains working in correctional facilities (penitentiaries, prisons, jail and other types of detention facilities); military and civilian.  Include them all in your prayers.

For more stories of God’s work through CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.

For information on how to become an endorsed chaplain through CBAmerica, contact our Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Looking for Room 372

Looking for Room 372By Chaplain Gordon Ruddick

It was a Sunday morning. A work day. I don’t usually work on the weekends, anymore, but this was one of those days. I had two hospitals to cover, about six miles apart. The one is big, bustling, and beautiful. I spend most of my time there.

The other is cared for by equally committed caregivers who happen to work in an environment that does not always seem to be the focus of attention. I spent my first year as a chaplain there and feel connected to those folks, many of whom continue to work in this specific location on purpose, bringing all they have to those who need it. I often start my weekend day at what we call “UD”, University District. I attend rounds on the medical floor and then try to make a visit or two or maybe three before I head over to RiverBend, which I kiddingly refer to as the “Big Dog.”

Knowing there would be lots to do at RiverBend today, I listened during rounds and determined that there was one patient I had to try to see. This was a GIP patient in room 372. GIP stands for “General In-Patient,” a term for hospice patients who have been admitted to the hospital, often because of pain issues that cannot be managed outside this acute setting.

That was the situation for this man about 50 years old who was dying of cancer. But he wasn’t dying easily. Or quickly, or painlessly, either, despite the attempts and care of the staff. I peeked into his darkened room and saw him asleep in his bed with another person sprawled on a nearby chair, intently trying to catch up on missed rest during this unofficial truce. There have been two instances in the hospital where I have experienced a terminal patient in agonal pain. I’m not displeased that I did not have to experience that this day. I asked the nurse how the night had gone and about his wife—where she was and how this was for her. Pain control was still elusive at times, she said. For now, he was quiet and not hurting. He was at death’s door, it seemed. But for now that door was locked despite the banging.

There was no one to talk to, and I needed to get moving. Lots of people to see at the Big Dog. Oh well, I had tried. Did my best. Surely didn’t want to wake up this patient for any reason right now. Let him sleep. Let them both sleep. I told the ward clerk I was leaving and headed down to the first floor. I wondered where his wife was. In the cafeteria?

Suddenly I realized this was not my normal exit path. I usually take the sky bridge connected to the third floor over the street and then go down to the parking garage. But not today. For some reason, as I headed towards the crosswalk, I glanced at the woman standing by the bus stop, which in this location was a self-contained unit, consisting of a steel post with a bus schedule at eye level as well as a small bench attached at the appropriate height. She did not look up at me. She seemed to be in her own world.

Then I saw it.

A sticky label attached to her dress. Three numbers on it. “372.” She wore that so staff would know her reason for being in the hospital. This was the wife. The one I had been looking for.

I quietly introduced myself by name as a chaplain (she could see my badge as well) and I told her I had been looking for her. We sat on that small bench and she told me her story of deep pain and suffering. Of the hope for recovery that had grown and faded and now was only a distant memory. She mentioned their faith and the help it had been to them. And she also said how hard a time her husband was having dying. She asked if I would pray that her husband would die soon. I said, “Of course I will.”

So I prayed for God to take her husband home very soon and end his pain. And I asked for God to comfort her in her sorrow, disappointment, and hurt. When the prayer was over I held her for just a second. I then was able to provide some assurance to her that God cared. I said, “I was looking for you and I was not able to find you, I believe God led me to you. And you know what? You are the only person in this hospital that I will probably see today. I want you to realize that you are very special to God and to me as well.” She was touched.

And, oh yes, the door finally opened. He died later that day. Quietly it seemed.

That was the only time I ever saw her.

The story of Jesus in Samaria with his disciples came to me as I drove over to RiverBend. He said to them, “As you look around, would you say it looks like about four months until the harvest? (or in my case, about six miles!) Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. It’s harvest time!”

Room 372 is there, if I just am looking for it. _________________________________________________________________________
Gordon Ruddick is a hospital chaplain in the greater Eugene, Oregon area. Through his own heart issues, he has come to specialize in cardiac patients, both as inpatients as well as in an outpatient setting. God is using him to help them deal with all that serious illness (especially heart issues) brings up for them.

His prayer concerns: Comfort at the loss of his father, a former CB pastor, who passed recently after a long battle with dementia. Thankfully his death was quick and peaceful.

His report noted two first-time decisions for Christ! That’s something we can all rejoice over.

For more stories of ministry by CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica/chaplaincy. For information on endorsement with CBAmerica, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

The harvest is ripe!

No Place Else to Rest

HatfieldBy Chaplain John Hatfield
Rhode Island Army National Guard

Acts 14:22: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

As Paul traveled throughout the Mediterranean preaching the gospel, he also was blessed to “confirm” or strengthen the many brothers and sisters in Christ who were in much “tribulation” or trouble. In a similar way, I was blessed to have opportunity to preach the gospel and minister to other believers who were encountering seasons of tribulation in their lives during our [Army National Guard] Annual Training at Fort Drum, New York.

One particular instance comes to my remembrance. A Soldier who was hurt during training needed to rest for a few days. The only space available happened to be next to me in my tent. Before I even met the Soldier I knew the Lord was moving in circumstances.

When I returned from visiting the [artillery] batteries, I entered a dark tent and found the Soldier with a very somber disposition. He had been laying there all day in the hot tent and seemed dejected and not eager to talk. I was moved to press on and began asking questions about his life and other things.

I soon found that this man was a Christian and was hurting not only physically but spiritually. The next few hours were spent exhorting him in the faith and through much tribulation we enter God’s kingdom.

What a blessing it was to see his face change and his soul lifted up as he remembered who he was in Christ and that sin no longer had dominion over him. Since that day he has continued to show great change and spiritual vigor and even visited my church to hear me preach. I praise the Lord for this ministry!

Chaplain Hatfield adds two prayer requests to his report:

  1. Continued open doors for ministry in the Armed Forces.
  2. That the Lord would grant great boldness in the faith to live Christ as well as preach Christ.

Pray for the 170 CBAmerica chaplains scattered around the globe, on land, sea, and in the air. 95 serve in the military and 75 in a wide variety of civilian settings, to include: hospitals, hospices, prisons, law enforcement, fire and rescue, motor cycle clubs, Veterans organizations and Wounded Warriors programs.  For more stories go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy