Pella Chronicle


October 26, 2012

Questions do come up

Pella — As a workplace chaplain my first job is to provide help and care to all employees no matter their religion or lack of it.  Chaplains do not bring up spiritual issues unless an employee brings it up first.   But religious and spiritual questions do come up. Recently (shared with permission), I had a middle aged man in my office who looked like an outlaw biker. He drove a Harley, had his hair pulled back into a pony tail, goatee, several piercings, tattoos up and down his arms and neck.

He said, “chaplain my life’s a mess.  To be honest I have had thoughts of taking my life.  I just don’t know if I can take it much more.  My wife and I fight all the time and are on the verge of divorce. My kids are always in trouble at school. I am overextended on my bills and on the verge of losing my house. My boss is on me all the time because I have to miss so much work taking care of these things, and I am in danger of losing my job.  I drink too much, the stress is killing me, and it’s creating some severe health problems.  It seems like everything at once and I can’t take it anymore.” (I edited out some of the saltier language)

In the course of the conversation and letting him know where to go to get help, he says to me, “You know my grandpa and grandmother used to take me to church.  Life was not always perfect for them. They had their problems to, but they always had a sense of peace. They prayed about everything, and always worked through their problems. They always had time and energy to help other people, and they did a lot of good in the community.  It seems to me that one reason they did so well was they had a lot of support from the folks at church, and they saw a purpose in life to everything. Jesus was always real and alive to them and they lived like he was right there with them every day.  I’d like to have what they had.  I’d like to start going to church, to know Jesus like they did. But look at me, what church would want a guy like me!?”

“Well,” I said, “There are a lot of churches that would welcome you.  Folks in church are pretty nice once you get to know them.”

He looked at me with a hard stare, and asked me like his whole life depended on my answer, “name some!!”

He wants names.  Can I give him the name of your church?

Would a hard livin’ guy like this who wants a relationship with Jesus, who wants to change his life, his heart, and his family be welcomed, loved on unconditionally, despite the course language and alternative lifestyle in your church?  Would he and his family be accepted, ministered to patiently despite not coming to church all dressed up, broken, needy, and imperfect in your church?   

There are plenty of folks like this man in the community and surrounding area flying under the radar waiting for a ministry of presence by open minded Christians.  I love the word of Jesus.  “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”  (Matthew 9:37)


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