New Dress Code for Hospital Chaplains: COVID-19 PPE

By Chaplain Gordon Ruddick, Peace Health Medical Center, Springfield, Oregon

Chaplain Gordon Ruddick

As chaplains, we’ve always been required to wear “business casual” to work. Still true. Now, though,  there’s a new addition. All employees are required to wear a yellow, slightly itchy, hospital mask during our workday. In order to enter one of only three entrances we must all successfully pass the temperature check, give our identifying information, and tell them how we feel. Then the mask. No exceptions. And no homemade masks allowed in the hospital. Only the yellow ones, except in special situations when N-95 masks are required for more dangerous duty.

These days it’s more “serious business” and a lot less “casual.” The war continues. And we are the front lines. As a chaplain I am not seeing COVID-19 patients directly, but definitely am at times involved with other staff who have been in the heat of that battle. My job has changed focus from patients to staff. There are no family or visitors these days, except for those on both ends of life, the ones coming in and the ones going out. Those folks can have very limited visitation from a family member. Of course I still see patients as well. I am one of their few visitors.    

While this pandemic is a bother to many in our community, a loss of business for a multitude, and a definite disruption to schedules and plans to millions, it is as well a source of concern and danger for us who are serving in this place. You are supposed to stay home. We are supposed to go to work. And there are days when that is not easy. Especially the first few days when everything was very eerie. It is a place of danger as well as a place of duty. This is who I am. This is what I have been called to do. We feel that way. It’s why we stay faithful. That does not mean we are never afraid. It means we let go of the fear and hang on to faithfulness.

We and our families appreciate your prayer for our safety and effective ministry to the givers and the receivers of health care. The risks are great. As are the rewards. Our God is faithful. May that continue to be our legacy as well. “For such a time as this.” 


While many Americans are “staying home,” front-line medical personnel in infected areas are working overtime; that includes hospital chaplains. Pray for Chaplain Ruddick and the other 23 CBAmerica hospital chaplains, most of whom are designated “essential personnel.”  Join me in praying for God’s protection and guidance as they minister to staff and patients.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains ministering during the current pandemic, visit   For electronic brochures describing chaplaincy ministries and the endorsement requirements, contact Director of Chaplaincy, Randy Brandt, at

He Was There

Chaplain response to NAS Pensacola terrorist attack

By Chaplain Nick Dewhurst, US Navy Reserve, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

On Friday December 6, 2019, there was an attack on students at Naval Air Station Pensacola. At the time, the news reported over 11 hurt and several fatalities. The moment I heard of the events, I immediately reached out to local chaplain assets and offered myself to assist.

I was allowed onto the base and was able to help provide immediate counseling for witnesses and classmates of the victims and offered support. Throughout the entire weekend and into the next week, I was able to help coordinate local resources, interface with the active component and provide manpower to an overtaxed active component.

In the immediate aftermath, it was determined that 24-hour chaplain coverage would be needed and a watch stander would need to be present. I stood one of the first watches and was instrumental in standing up the hospitality and counseling center for those impacted by the event.

I was also able to help the active component with the vast amount of group counseling for Naval Flight Officers impacted. This was a great time of ministry and a great way to be the hands and feet of Christ during a crisis.


Join me in thanking God for Chaplain Dewhurst’s quick and capable response to this tragedy. Having recently returned from deployment in support of operations leading to the defeat of ISIS in Syria, Nick was undaunted by the news reports and ran to the sounds of tragedy. Pray for Nick and our 199 other military and civilian chaplains who are called out daily to respond to tragic situations, at home and abroad.

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, log onto For brochures on chaplaincy or endorsement, email Randy Brandt, Director of Chaplaincy at

It’s Who You Know

Retired Chaplain Rivals the Energizer Bunny

By Chaplain Bob Hicks, USAF, Retired & FBI Volunteer

Cars, Taxis, & Walking

CRU International Report 2019

Unlike years’ past, this 2019 found me serving the military in four countries.  It was a very busy fall schedule taking me to Canada, Ukraine, Israel and Kenya.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Canadian Principal Chaplain

Through a personal relationship with a pastor whose church is just outside the Royal Military College (Kingston), I was able to give my Combat Moral Injury and From Harm to Home lectures with Canadian soldiers, chaplains and volunteers.  I was also pleased to enjoy the presence of the base “Principal” or head, base chaplain.  Most of those present had either been deployed or were soon leaving for Afghanistan as our ally in NATO.  This was a very timely event for these soldiers bringing about many questions and issues about soul wounds of war.  CRU/HQ is now hopeful in formally recognizing the pastor as a CRU military volunteer.

Kiev and Surrounding Areas, Ukraine

During a beautiful Kiev Fall, I lectured at the University of Ukraine (Kiev) to a packed lecture hall of psychology students, national police, emergency officers, and soldiers. Local Press also covered the event and I gave two interviews through my translator. Prior to speaking, I met with the President of the University briefing him about my ministry to veterans.

Ukrainian Veteran Center

The next day, I shared lunch with war veterans, their wives, and some volunteers. Across Ukraine there are Veteran Pizza restaurants started and run by veterans.  Later, I spoke on Moral Injury at a Veteran Hospital in Borispol outside of Kiev near the airport. Later that night I shared my lectures on Combat Moral Injury, PTSD, and Grief issues to veterans. One of the tallest buildings in Kiev dedicated its top floor to serving veterans needs, with job search help, soldier post combat support and teaching computer skills. Every night in Kiev, our team returned to the Vet HUB for meeting with more veterans, spouses, widows, even children having lost their fathers.

Speaking to Career Officers, Kiev Military Institute

Mid-week, I was able to see a major answer to prayer.  For years, CRU Ukraine military had been praying for an opening to some of their officer training facilities.  Through a CRU volunteer who is a Captain at the Kiev Military Academy, he set up my speaking at the General Institute of Defense.  I thought I was speaking to cadets, but when I arrived there were probably 40-45 mid-career and senior officers present. (NOTE: Quick prayer as I walked into the room)

Meeting with Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops, Chaplains, at St. Michael’s Cathedral, Kiev

On my last day, a second prayer request was granted. Ukraine historically, is a Russian/Ukrainian Orthodox church culture. Whether practicing or not, Ukrainians still give high honor to the Orthodox church.  Because Orthodox chaplains deploy to the combat fronts along with Protestants and other groups, the need for serious discussion with the Orthodox leadership has been a long-standing prayer request. Though I don’t know how this came about, I was asked to do a three-hour Q & A meeting with the Kiev Metropolitan (Head Bishop), the Bishop overseeing the Military chaplains plus Orthodox chaplains, even a Catholic (Eastern Rite) Chaplain.  Most of our discussion centered on how our US military Chaplains from many faith traditions work together, how we are trained, even how we are paid!

Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Israel

Leaving Ukraine, I took a side trip to Israel with the CRU European director. Our goal was doing some reconnaissance to see if there were any open doors to serving the Israeli Defense Forces in their constant wartime environment. Having meetings with former IDF soldiers-now pastors we gained valuable insight into how Israel as a nation suffers from PTSD. Over a wonderful lunch across from the New Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem a former student of mine and his wife shared their 40-year experience of sharing Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) in Israel. We concluded our time meeting outside Tel Aviv at a Baptist camp which does outreach to young IDF soldiers and doing a two-month recovery time after they finish their two years of required service.  As a result of our time, the European director will be following up the contacts we made.

Mombasa, Kenya

My final trip was a follow up to my last visit to the country two years ago.  While teaching a course at the African International University, (Outside Nairobi), several Kenyan military chaplains sat on my course on Critical Incident Stress Management. The Kenyan military is seriously involved in defending their country from the terrorist group, Al Shabab, based across the border in Somalia. As a result, they asked me and an Army chaplain (retired) to do our briefings on Moral Injury and how Christ brings about healing from traumatic moral/mental injuries. The weather was hot, humid, and rainy but the fellowship among soldiers, CRU staff, with the presence of the Kenyan Principal Chaplain was such a blessing. The response was overwhelming from the soldiers.


Each country visited was very different in culture with their own unique issues when it comes to dealing with the mental and physical casualties of war. However, what they all shared was the concern they have for soldiers, wives, children, and widows.  They all agreed government can only do so much but healing the inner wounds of the soul needs a much deeper approach. That’s why my briefings end focusing on issues of forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation… all spiritual and theological in nature!  As one Ukrainian soldier asked at the end of my presentation, “Why do you talk about Jesus?”  My short answer was, “Because nothing else has worked”.

These trips come about through your CRU support, and faithful prayers. I can’t express how thankful I am for you allowing me the privilege of sharing my military experience with those still facing and recovering from combat.   In the Fight.   Bob


Editor’s Note:

There’s a song sometimes sung at military retirements. The main lyrics are: “Old soldiers never die they simply fade away.”  The song itself is a British Army’s parody of the gospel song “Kind Thoughts Can Never Die.” In the United States, the phrase was used by general Douglas MacArthur in his April 19, 1951 farewell address to the U.S. Congress (which has become known as the “Old Soldiers Never Die” speech). Whereas some retired military members often fade away, some, like Chaplain Bob Hicks, have continued in productive military and Veteran ministry at home and around the world.

Join us in thanking God for His Grace that continues to work in and through Bob as he ministers Christ’s love, forgiveness and healing power in the lives of those shattered by war; warriors, Veterans, widows and orphans, chaplains and commanders drained by its impact.  Pray also, for him and his 200 fellow CBAmerica chaplains, military and civilian who daily attend to those impacted by “man’s inhumanity to man.”

For more stories by and about CBAmerica chaplains, visit our webpage at

For information on endorsement for chaplaincy, email Director Randy Brandt at

Chat with Chaplain

Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis

By Chaplain Evan Spencer, Salem VA Medical Center, Salem, Virginia

Here’s how one VA chaplain reaches out to confined patients…through closed circuit TV (CCTV)

Welcome, and thanks for joining us!  Hi, I’m Chaplain Evan Spencer and I’d like to talk to you today about finding hope in the midst of crisis…

About 10 years ago on August 5, 2010, the Copiapo mining accident began as a massive cave-in at the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapo, Chile.  The accident trapped 33 men 700 meters (2,300 ft.) which is 6 football fields in length below the ground’s surface. These 33 men survived underground for a record 69 days.  All were able to retreat to a 540 ft. emergency shelter and had 1.2 miles of tunnels in which to move around, and enough food to last for 2 or 3 days.  How did they survive? By banding together under their leader of Mario Sepulveda, the food lasted an amazing 2 -3 weeks.  This was our theme last week.  Connecting in a time of Crisis.  Today we consider that as we connect, we still may be trapped and in need of hope for a rescue!!  A rescue that could only come from above.

With 33 men there must have been some fighting.  So, one of the first things that they had to learn was that they had to keep up the spirits of everyone if anyone was going to survive.  They were still a three-mile drive by the former passageways to the entrance of the mine, and their rations by day 17 were exhausted.  So how did they find hope?  Hope came as a drill finally made it through from above on day 17, just as they’d run out, and began supplying food, toothpaste, even cell phones, news from the surface and messages from loved ones.  Still, 6 football fields below the surface after a terrible mine collapse, and only a tube connecting them to the surface, the collapsed mountain literally blocking the passageway, although they’d pulled together, they were still not out of the woods as far as survival was concerned.  How was a tube the size of a man going to be created to rescue them so far into the earth?

Yet hope was provided by the supplies, air and love coming from the surface into the darkness that entrapped them. There was still a living hope they’d make it out alive.  For it was this narrow shaft that would somehow be made larger through the resourceful efforts of rescuers, now assembling from around the worlds; coming together to solve the dilemma of the trapped miners.

So what about us?  Today, as we band together as communities, as a nation and as a world community, what gives you and I that shaft of hope in the midst of our struggle with the changes and interruptions brought on by the Corona Virus?  

There is a song popularized by a group called the Byrds, in the 1960’s called “Turn, Turn, Turn” which borrowed from a poem from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament which says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” But what we find hard to believe is that God might have a purpose in crisis!  But here it is, the poem says there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  But God’s purposes are not just out there and mystical. Knowing there is a larger purpose even in difficult times provides hope.  God has not abandoned us!  For the passage goes on to tell us he has made everything, all these seasons, beautiful in their time.  So let’s you and I also find hope in realizing there is a purpose, even for this present season.  Let us find hope in celebrating the beauty of the season we are in, because God has a purpose in every season of life.  

Let’s face it, if there is a time for everything, all the seasons of life can’t be good; but let us focus on the good that we might discover knowing that there is beauty in the midst of even difficult seasons of life as well. 

For some of us, the beauty might be to grow closer to God.  When we become more aware of his presence in a way we never ever could have unless this difficult season came.  For others, it might be an important opportunity to know a quiet, deeply reflective child better, or even a friend, one who has great potential to bloom if the time was taken by someone to get to know him or her better. 

In the Spring we celebrate the beauty of new beginnings as in the beauty of the flowers, birds, and buds bursting forth with new life.  This week many will celebrate life with the remembrance of deliverance from oppression as in the Jewish Passover.  For Christians the celebration of life takes place as we remember the conquering of death by Jesus Christ by remembering the empty tomb.  These historical events reflected both beauty and darkness as our present times do as well.  So, was it just a coincidence that as the virus peaks, we find that these aspects of our Spring celebration are peaking as well?  Or might we also find beauty in God’s timing this Spring as our “tube of hope” to help us through?

For now, we have a difficult time, as the miners did, as our character is tested by COVID-19. So we hope to find we have the strength to weather this seemingly endless storm, developing in us the new-found strength to pass on both the torches of connection and of hope to our friends and neighbors and, of course to the next generation

So , let us look around us and enjoy the beauty of the Spring.  Let us look around us, and humbly enjoy the extra time we have to spend with our loved ones.  Let us look around us and appreciate this time we have to positively connect with others who we would not ordinarily connect with.  Yet, God and nature have conspired together to allow this to happen.  But what of our friends in Chile?  After the event and the men were miraculously rescued, these men of Copiapo, Chile remain close brothers to this day. What a triumph of the human spirit!      

33 Men!  One of the miners remarked: “There were not 33, but 34 of us, because God was with us.”  So, let us continue to pray, and let us find hope by seeing the beauty in this season today.  For God makes all things beautiful in his time.

Lord please show me every day
As you’re teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time

In your time, in your time
You make all things beautiful
In your time

Lord my life to you I bring
May each song I have to sing
Be to you a lovely thing
In your time

(Instrumental piano interlude played by Chaplain Spencer)

Lord please show me every day
As you’re teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time
In your time (in your time), in your time (in your time, Lord)
You make all things beautiful
In your time

Please let me share a few valuable resources:

1. Based on this meditation, I invite you to watch the movie, “The 33” which references the actual account of the miraculous rescue.  It can be found on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV and Vudu.

2. Our Salem VA Chaplain Team is at your beck and call. Feel free to reach out to a chaplain 24/7 by calling one of our Extensions from 7am to 4:30pm.  After-hours call and request to be transferred to the Chaplain-on-call.

To conclude, permit me to share this Prayer with You:

Holy God, we humbly ask you to provide us with a sense of trust as we wait on you, reveling in the beauty that you create in every season of life.  May we see the beauty of today and notice your handiwork in and around us. As we anticipate these blessings, so we extend our thanks and praise to you for the good purpose that you have for us all.  In your Holy Name I pray. Amen. 

I’m looking forward to seeing you again here soon!

Though initially frustrated with social-distancing limitations, Chaplain Spencer took advantage of the VA Medical Center’s Facebook Live page and broadcast a message of home and recorded a corresponding song of hope for interested patients confined to their rooms.  Join me in praying for the Spirit’s leading for our 200 CBAmerica chaplains adapting to ministry in the current pandemic; that they might find effective, creative ways to share the message of hope in Jesus Christ!

For more stories by and about CBAmerica Chaplains, go to  For PDF brochures describing the varied ministry of chaplaincy and the process of endorsement, email Randy Brandt, Director of Chaplaincy at