Almost 10 years ago, I woke up one morning and was convinced that I was supposed to start a ministry – named Chaplains at Work. The purpose of the ministry was to assist people who were out of work; in career transition. Two ministry partners of mine, Roger Pope and Rich Irish, worked side by side with me for years to put together programs to help men and women deal with the realities of unemployent.
Chaplains was the result of my deepening faith walk and attempt to reach out and be the hands and feet of Jesus working with people who were, in many instances, desperate. Several other friends of mine became board members and throughout the years, we have assisted literally thousands of people with their job searches. None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for the dedication of my cousin, David, to initially invite me into a closer relationship with God.
It was through the encouragement of David that I attended my first Bible study and eventually, years later, I actually taught the study I first attended – and as you know, I eventually attended seminary. All the while, David was engaged in his own ministry work, primarily in the field of financial stewardship and helping people to become debt free by following biblical principles. I have always had a particular heart for his area of ministry, as it was the first study I attended in earnest and ultimately I even became an instructor in dealing with fiscal responsibility.
Now, many years later, David is changing ministries – not his passion or commitment to helping people become debt free, but the agency through which he conducts his work. In fact, he is joining me in Chaplains. Never, in my wildest imagination, did I ever even consider that something like this could or would ever happen. But you know what? I’m pretty jazzed about it. After all, many times people who have lost their jobs face financial hardships, even resulting in bankruptcy, loss of homes, cars and other physical assets. So it is clear to me that career transition and financial pressure are areas that people usually face in tandem.
Even more devastating than the financial crisis is the fact that divorce and addictions run rampant in families that are struggling economically; and the situation is very difficult on the children. So it seems natural to me that David and I can combine our areas of ministry passion and work together to add a dimension of depth to the way that he and I have traditionally assisted people in need – independent of one another.
With this advent of our joint venture, several professionals who work with me have been gracious enough to donate, yes donate, a new website and all the web based communications that we will need to bring the ministry to the forefront of the community. As you probably can figure out, I have never been much of a partner kind of guy, but I have complete peace with my new-found association with my cousin. I think that I am correct in saying that he feels the same way about me.
Both of believe that ministry is a team sport, and while we pray for and encourage one another, this is the first time that we have chosen to join forces and try to advance the kingdom together. It feels kind of weird – in a good kind of way. Maybe because he is “family,” but I have known him twenty years or so and this seems like an appropriate next season of ministry for both of us.
So, as the new website gets ready to launch in the next week or so, and people surround us with assistance as we get ready to re-launch the ministry, I can’t help but reflect on the core verse of Chaplains that we committed to when we opened our doors 10 years ago. That verse is our Scripture for this evening. From Galatians 6:2, Paul admonishes us, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” And what’s the law of Christ? To love one another as He has loved us.
My encouragement this evening is to affirm that there are people who feel alone and desperate and need your help. As Christians it is our mandate to bear the burdens of each other and to lighten the load of those in need who are overwhelmed by their situation. My prayer is that God will continue to bless the effort that we have be involved in for the last decade and that David and I, along with Christ followers everywhere, will be ever mindful of our position as ambassadors of the most high God and reach out to help those less fortunate. In that way, we will all truly be Chaplains at Work. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…