How You Spend Your Days: Chaplain tracks numbers that really count

By Mark Mitera, Hospice Chaplain, Athens, Ohio

Just to satisfy my own curiosity about how I’m spending my time during the week, I’ve been tracking the following statistics for July – December 2018:

(1) Total number of hours of direct patient contact: 478.65 hours.
(2) Total work days this period: 113
(3) Hours per day of direct patient contact: 4.24 hours per day.
(4) Number of patients visited: 489
(5) Average length of visit: 0.98 hours per patient.
(6) Number of deaths: 107
(7) Number of funerals conducted: 9
(8) Number of Bibles given to patients: 28

One of my blessings is the increase in the number of hospice patients I am seeing on a regular basis. During my last report, I asked you to be praying that the Lord would allow me to see more of the patients on our hospice census. I was seeing approximately 70% at that time.

As of this past month, I am now seeing 85% of my patients and feel that I’m having a significant impact in their lives. I give all the glory to God for making this happen, because there is nothing different that I am doing. If I offer spiritual care to a person and they decline, then I need to honor their desire and not see them. I thank you for your prayers and ask that you continue to pray for me in this area.

Another blessing is being able to preach at two small country churches in my area twice per month. Although I make it clear that I’m a CBAmerica chaplain, the United Methodist Church (UMC) District Office is glad to use me for pulpit supply. Since this past July, I have been preaching a 9:30 service at Bates UMC (with attendance of 20-25), followed by a 10:45 service at Shade UMC (with attendance of 15-20). They are small in numbers, but I’ve come to love the people there, and they call me their pastor even though I only preach there every other week. One visitor even commented that the service felt more like a Baptist service (like her Baptist church in Florida)!

Please pray for me that the Lord will continue to use me to faithfully preach his Word. Also pray for the people in these small churches that they will be encouraged, that they will grow in their faith, and that they will be motivated to effectively share their faith with others.

I also consider it a great blessing for me to minister to my hospice patients, to be able to clearly share the gospel with them, and to be able to pray for them that they would truly come to know and love the Lord before it is too late for them. We have lost 107 of our patients in the past six months, and many people outside of hospice can’t understand how I can continue doing this ministry. It is only by God’s grace that I continue to do this work of ministry. Rather than focusing on the terminal illnesses of all my patients and realizing that they will possibly die within the next six months, I consider it a privilege to be able to spend a short amount of time with them through meaningful conversation, spiritual music, Bible reading and prayer.

Please pray for my hospice patients that they might call on the Lord in their time of need, and that they might come to truly know and love Him.

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Join us in praying for Chaplain Mitera’s hospice and pulpit supply ministry. May he and our other 195 CBAmerica chaplains continue to follow the example of the Lord Jesus who came to seek and to save those who are lost and dying.

For more stories by and about chaplaincy ministries, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  For information on chaplain endorsement, email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

 

Spiritual Resilience in Athens: Chaplain Reinforces Morale in Ancient Ruins

By Chaplain Daniel Moen, Athens Greece

Happy New Year from Greece!

I’ve attached a storyboard from a recent event we did in Athens. I took 29
Soldiers in partnership with my Hellenic counterparts to tour Athens and
explore some historical and biblical sites. It was a fantastic trip.

 

Join me in praying for Chaplain Moen and his Troopers on this unique deployment. Pray for safety in the air and on the ground for this heavily armed Cavalry unit.  Pray for successful training and interaction between U.S. and Greek forces.  Pray for loved ones back home who eagerly await their Soldiers’ safe return!

For more stories about and by CBAmerica chaplains – military and civilian – go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  To learn more about endorsement as a chaplain, email Director of Chaplaincy, Andy Meverden at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

When I Was in Prison, You Visited Me: Chaplain Brings Ministry Home

By Chaplain Jerry Levizon-Hughes, Jail Ministry, with Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Andy Meverden writes: “Last year, while reviewing Jerry’s ministry update, I picked up on an amazing story. Out of concern and compassion for an incarcerated mother of three, Jerry volunteered to take her daughter* into her home. Wondering how this would work out, I eagerly anticipated her follow-up report. Read ‘the rest of the story.’”

“The biggest blessing in the last six months is that the gals I have seen in jail or out, keep in touch with me. They aren’t concerned about me just stopping by to see them, whether they aren’t doing well, and end up back in jail or in rehab. Whatever the situation, they want me to come see them. ‘Thank you, Father for keeping these doors open!’

In January, I will meet Christina who is coming out of a nearby correctional facility through our HGO program (Home for Good in Oregon). She has asked for a mentor in our area, and the pastor at the prison called me.

Josalyn* has been in our home for 11 months, I call her my ‘God daughter’ because it was God that put us together. It’s been especially hard on her. It’s not easy losing family and she has struggled trying to keep her siblings nearby. However, God is good; and with a whole lot of prayer, Josalyn’s siblings ended up just a few blocks from us – huge praise!!!!!!! and thanks to Jesus. (This is Josalyn this past summer learning to drive on a riding lawnmower!)

I haven’t been in our jail since October, as there have been no requests. Most gals when they leave the jail don’t contact me unless they are in need, and only if they still have my info. However, if they end up back in jail, they will look me up or ask for some other chaplain to come see them.

  • Please pray for the gals I see in jail and the ones I write to at a nearby correctional facility. I don’t know their story, but they all have one.
  • Pray for Josalyn as she is still struggling emotionally. Pray for her mom, Kim, and her siblings.
  • Pray for the gals in rehab, crisis homes and mental health treatment. Many have not yet put their trust in Jesus. ‘It’s a process,’ as one gal said!
  • Please pray for my husband and me; for the extra work and stress this ministry places on our marriage.

Thank you,

Jerry

Join me in praying for Jerry and her husband, Jim, as they nurture and care for Josalyn, in addition to the female inmates. It’s one thing to spend time in jail, listening, counseling and praying with adults. It’s quite another to take in an inmate mother’s child.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. If interested in learning more about endorsement for a wide variety of chaplain specialties, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

The Ultimate Leap of Faith: Paratroopers Accepting Christ

By Chaplain Sean Callahan, US Army, Fort Bragg, NC

For Katie and I, these last few months have been wrought with transition, radical adjustment, long work days, but also great joy. In each of the first three full months that we have been here at Fort Bragg with the 82nd, a Paratrooper has surrendered his life to Christ. Three Paratroopers who have, in a very real sense, taken the ultimate leap of faith.

In the 82nd community, Airborne operations are our bread and butter. We train to jump and jump into training. We take the typical battle drills of an Infantry Brigade and execute them as part of complex airborne insertions. We afford the Army a capability to react quickly and decisively, behind enemy lines. And the longer we stay in the community, the more jumps we rack up.

I have learned, however, that for most Paratroopers (including myself) the nervousness that can accompany a jump never completely goes away: the sunken feeling in the stomach, the racing heart, the sweating palms, the moments of real fear when faced with exiting an aircraft while in flight. In those moments we choose to have faith in our Jumpmasters, in our parachutes, and in our pilots. We convince ourselves that our training is sound, our equipment has been checked and re-checked, and that when we exit the door our chutes will deploy, and we will safely land on the ground. And so, when we receive that green light, “Go,” all fear washes away and we surrender to muscle memory and the moving chain of human bodies, and we leap out from the aircraft into the sky.

While Paratroopers may be accustomed to taking leaps from aircraft, they are not always so ready to take a leap of faith. This kind of leap means surrendering ourselves, and in that act trusting in Someone we can’t see, and we haven’t necessarily trained for. There are no Pre-jump procedures or PLF (Parachute Landing Fall) rehearsals that help prepare us for an encounter with God. We must choose to take a leap into the unknown, and only then will we find our canopies carried gently down by the hands of a gracious and loving Father. We have to choose to believe in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross, and in that truth finally be set free from the fear and chains that bind us.

Our joy has been to see these Paratroopers, many of whom were at a crisis point in their lives and faith, decide to trust in Someone other than themselves. And if there had been any doubt as to whether we were following in the direction and ministry God was leading, moments like this erase them completely. They bring into sharp focus the incredible purposes and plans of God and remind us of how gracious He is in allowing us to be a part of His process of drawing these young Paratroopers to His side, in making them a part of His eternal family.

For this reason, we magnify His name. For this reason, we rejoice in every single moment, even when it means being away from home or working late into the night. For this reason, we give thanks for the great privilege it is to be co-laborers in Christ within this Airborne community.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to  www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. For information on endorsement for chaplaincy, military or civilian, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, at chapandy@cbmerica.org.

Oh, the Places That They Go: Navy Reserve Chaplain Ministers in Unexpected Places

By Chaplain Nick Dewhurst, USNR & Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Chaplain Andy writes: CBAmerica military chaplains constantly deploy around the world. Air Force chaplains typically deploy to an air base, Army chaplains to Army bases and Forward Operating Bases, and Navy chaplains deploy to Navy bases and air stations or ride big ships on the oceans.  So, one would expect a Navy Reserve chaplain to deploy to a base with Navy or US Marines.  But not this chaplain.  Chaplain Nick Dewhurst, with a background with Sailors (Sea Bees – Naval Construction Battalion) and US Marines, took a different path.  Following is his surprising year-end update:

Happy New Year!

August:

We arrived safely in Syria and hit the ground running.  We were embedded with the U.S. Army, so it was an adventure learning their culture.  I’ve heard too many “Hooahs” for my own good.  We initially started our ministry with a small “chaplain store”* and work area.  It was functional, but we saw areas for improvement to better the lives of the Soldiers here.  Throughout the month we began visiting Soldiers in our guard towers and built relationships with them by bringing coffee and snacks (Twinkies)!  We got to know them well and enjoyed working with a great group of guys from the Mississippi Army National Guard.

September:

My RP (Religious Program Specialist) and I were able to do a small sight-seeing tour of our area with the local SDF (Syrian Defense Force) commander. He told us of areas where he fought ISIS for several days straight with diminishing food and Ammo.  He’s a great person.  I have enjoyed sharing tea and meals with him.  We ministered to his people by sharing with them much needed boots and toiletries.  We were also able to give gifts to the local Syrian children.

October:

We thoroughly enjoyed making life better for those on deployment. One of the main tasks was managing the insane amount of Care Packages that came to the base. My RP handled the management of the “chapel store.” This was an awesome tool for ministry as it brought people into the store for a great many conversations.  It was such a joy to be able to put smiles on people’s faces during their austere deployment. We actively sought to meet the needs and desires of folks.  The personal touch really helped us engage the troops.

During our time here, we also have had a great time at our Chapel Fire Pit. We’d have s’mores and conversation and we constantly had 20-25 people show up and hang out with us on a weekly basis. We even got to celebrate the Navy’s birthday (October 13) with a cake. Since myself and my RP were the “oldest and youngest (and only) Sailors” we cut the cake.

November:

For fun we decided to do a “capture the flag” event. This was one of the most successful events we did. As a chaplain, we constantly reached out to everyone that came in to us, or to those we would meet during our “deck-plating” (Yes, it’s a Navy term ) It was awesome to hear that this event was made famous through the country of Syria.

My RP and I had a chance to convoy to various bases around country and hold services in remote locations. As I was going around to people introducing myself, a soldier says, “I remember you! I played capture the flag at your base.” That is one of many compliments we have received on our work out here. I’ve told our chapel attendees many times that it is so important to be the “hands and feet of Christ,” as you may be the only Bible some people ever read. I think it is so true as a chaplain. The Gospel conversations, the counseling sessions, and the friendships have changed me for life!  We also enjoyed serving food for Thanksgiving and eating the wonderful food prepared by our DFAC (Dining Facility)

December:

We began celebrating Advent at the chapel. We had messages on Hope, Love, Joy and Peace and shared how Immanuel brought those things with Him at His coming. We did multiple chapel services with communion in December. The people obviously appreciated it! One of the sad things about December was that we had a lot of people rotate out.

When our Engineer Battalion left, we held a Good-Bye party for them. They presented us with a nice card.

 

New Year’s Blessings,

Nick

 

 

P.S. We heard this intruder one evening. Thankfully he was captured. He was as big as my RP’s hand!

 

 

 

*Chapel Store: This ministry team took over the task of receiving, storing and distributing Care Package contents (goodies) to area Troops. Like the typical American GI, they also shared with the destitute local population.  Not only did they use what they had to brighten the day of their servicemembers, but they brought rays of hope and joy to the oppressed people of Syria.  This is another example of the impact of sending Care Packages to our chaplains in support of their ministry to the Troops!

For more stories by and about Chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy. To inquire about endorsement for military and civilian chaplaincy, email Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Ukraine: In the Midst of War

By Chaplain Bob Hicks, USAF, Not so Retired

LITTLE DID I KNOW

November 4 to November 22, I was in Ukraine for my fourth trip in four years.  Covering four cities, I spoke with groups of Ukrainian military chaplains, psychologists, soldiers, military academy cadets, in addition to widows and parents of fallen “heroes.”  Little did I know, just a couple of days after leaving Kiev, the Capital, the Russians would block access from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, capturing three Ukrainian ships, and holding 24 sailors as prisoners. In response, Ukrainian President Poroshenko declared martial law throughout several of the cities where I was ministering. Since I was close to the Black Sea and not far from the line of conflict, when I heard about this decision back in the US, I wondered if I could have been allowed to leave.

BACKGROUND

Known as a conflict between Russians living in the East (Separatists) against western oriented Ukrainians, the war is now in its fourth year. From the time President Putin took over Crimea and initiated the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, I have been sharing my experience with their all-volunteer chaplain corps.  I regularly speak on PTSD, Combat Moral Injury, and Reintegration issues (From Battle Mind to Home Mind). Ukraine has suffered over 10,000 combat deaths leaving many parents and wives of solders with little to no care from churches, communities and government. To fill the gap, several American organizations have stepped in for training and instruction for these chaplains. I have been honored as a retired Air Force Chaplain to be part of the ministering teams.  (As a civilian volunteer with CRU Military Ministry).

PLANES, TRAINS, AND TAXIS

My most recent trip I call “planes, trains and taxis.”  I spoke 32 times in the cities of Lviv, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia, and Kiev, plus some side trips to meet with specific chaplains. I did four television appearances, one radio and a local newspaper interview. I spoke to hundreds of soldiers, a military academy, a Veteran hospital, a public high school general assembly, plus a city hall meeting of psychologists and Orthodox priests. In Lviv, I addressed Greek Catholic chaplains, and seminarians considering the chaplaincy.

WHAT GOD IS DOING

In a country with a history of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, at the beginning of the war the only chaplains officially recognized by the government were Orthodox priests. Other protestant ministers, however, volunteered to go to the front, live with the soldiers, even take fire, with some being killed. Since very few protestant churches pay their ministers, these pastors would go on their own money, risk their own lives while serving their troops and leading many to Christ. Their commitment was a shining example of the love of Christ which began to influence even Orthodox priests.  As one of these priests told me, “at the front there are just chaplains, not Baptist, Orthodox or Catholic.”  Another one confessed, “I am Orthodox, but Protestant in my heart.”  So, this war is breaking down long standing denominational barriers and bringing about a certain unity of ministry. Christ is being exalted, the Bible studied, and confessions of faith being made.

Since my first trip after the war began, almost every time I spoke, military and civilian psychologists would show up. Initially, I thought they might be there just to “check me out” as a possible security threat. However, now I realize after 70 years of atheistic, materialist, behaviorist thinking, the young psychologists are searching for deeper understanding about the nature of humanness. They seem very curious and open when I start talking about the “soul” and “combat moral injury of the soul.” Spiritual categories are new to them and they realize Post Traumatic events like combat are not solved through medication or psychotherapy alone. This leads to interesting discussions about forgiveness and soul cleansing, which leads to the work of Christ. Thus, I am seeing a refreshing openness to Christ as a personal relationship, not the dry empty ritualism some have experienced in the past.

One Ukrainian chaplain had such a heart for widows, he started a weekly care group for both parents and widows of “heroes” as they call them.  Most of these had no experience with Christianity. After several mid-week meetings, he brought church musicians to sing and play Ukrainian songs. As more widows and parents joined, he realized he had started a new church. (I’ve had the privilege of speaking a couple of times to these meeting).  Other chaplains began doing the same, and now it has launched a whole church planting ministry simply created from ministry to war widows and parents. Many have come to know Christ, while others still come for the fellowship and care. So, God is at work in the midst of this war!

I have already received an invitation to meet with commanders at the front during my next trip. I am so honored to share our lessons learned from the US’s decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with these fellow brothers and sisters in arms. My mission statement borrowed from the Apostle Paul is: “we have a God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we might be able to comfort others in theirs” (II Corinthians 1:3-4). So, we comfort out of our own afflictions and traumas in the name of Christ.

Chaplain Bob Hicks is one of many CBAmerica chaplains who continue to serve as “Chaplains for Life!” Rather than retire from ministry, he continues to follow the Spirit’s leading into dangerous places where his unique ministry skills are needed and appreciated.  Join me in thanking God for Bob’s commitment to Christ, and willingness to serve “where most needed” at this time in history.  Pray for the Ukrainian chaplains, soldiers, mental health professionals and “Gold Star” families who have lost loved ones, including chaplains to the Russian insurgency.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, go to www.cbamerica.org/chaplaincy.  For information on endorsement in military and civilian chaplaincies, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at chapandy@cbamerica.org.