Sunday, November 22, 2009

Volunteer Hospital Chaplaincy

I don't think I've ever written previously about one thing that I've been involved in for the last two or three years--serving as a volunteer hospital chaplain. When the St. Luke's Hospital chain opened a local hospital here in Lee's Summit a few years back, they hired a former IMB missionary as a chaplain. John Murphy and his wife served in Venezuela before working in the home office in the area of support and scheduling for missionaries on stateside assignment (if memory serves me correctly). Two or three years ago, John contacted several local pastors and staff members to ask if we would be willing to serve as volunteer chaplains to help pick up the slack when he isn't there. Since John typically works "normal hours," the calls for assistance usually come in the wee hours of the morning.

I sleep with my cellphone nearby and it's not unusual to get a call at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning when there's been a life-threatening accident or a patient has been admitted who's near death and the family requests a chaplain. I received another one of those calls this past Thursday morning just before 2:00 a.m. and went to meet with the family. Their mom/grandmother had been hospitalized for a few days but had taken a sudden turn for the worse and they wanted some prayer support. I was able to spend some time visiting with them, offering some comfort and had prayer with them before leaving. I stopped back by the next morning and she was still lingering, though breathing much more shallowly. I stopped by and gave John an update and he followed up and visited with them during that day before she passed away in the afternoon.

I received a call yesterday and was asked if I would be willing to officiate at the funeral for the woman and I gladly consented. This is the second time I believe that one of these volunteer chaplain's visits has resulted in the additional opportunity to minister to a family in the time of their loss by conducting a funeral service. While the calls in the middle of the night can sometimes startle me awake and cost me some sleep, I appreciate the chance to demonstrate the love of Christ to someone who requests a chaplain to come and hold a hand, offer a shoulder to cry on, or say a prayer on behalf of a family member. I'm convinced that this is one further way that I can seek to be the presence of Christ in the midst of a hurting world.

No comments: