Meet a Chaplain

Alive Snell has been a Chaplain to Birmingham airport for almost 16 years.

Here’s her story . . .

I have lived in England many years but am originally from Norway. I came to England to train as a Salvation Army Officer and have led Churches (corps) with my husband for nearly forty years. We started work as Chaplains at Birmingham Airport in 2004, as well as running a small church. It was a little bit scary to be truthful!

What do I do, where do I go, how do I approach people? Lots of questions as we had no training in such work.

Fortunately we had worked with people all our lives so we soon got into conversations. 15 years have passed and we still enjoy this work. I have had so many blessings through these years and though I go just once a week I still look forward to it.

Before I go to the Airport in the morning I always pray that what I do or say will be to God’s honour and glory.

I always think of my work as being a bridge between church and those unchurched.

There have been some fun, and some serious conversations over the years. One asked if he was closer to God “up there in an aeroplane than down on the ground”, I assured him that God is

I had been a Chaplain for just a few months when a young lady poured out her sorrows and frustration to me, both personal and work related; it took me by a huge surprise but I learned there and then just to listen and be there.

Once I was airside loitering with intent when an upset young lady told me she did not want to travel to her home in an Asian country. I was able to take her to a safe people in the Airport. Many people are scared of travelling on their own particularly after a spouse has died, it’s good then to reassure them and help out. Some do not speak English and I can look for passengers who are going to the same destination and ask them to make sure the person gets on the right plane.

If I see someone in a wheelchair sitting on their own I stop and have a chat. Shop workers also appreciate a chat with the Chaplain if there is nothing much to do. People appreciate it when prayers are offered: not many decline.

I am glad I can be  of practical as well as verbal help to passengers and staff. It’s good to catch up with those I have known for many years and follow up with their family news.

The airport Chaplaincy team always takes part in the annual Carol Service at the airport which my husband Bryan arranges. Here I am doing a reading—and my fellow Chaplain Neil playing trombone! I feel so very blessed by the work that God has allowed me to do.

My prayer is that I will have been a blessing to those I have been privileged to meet and greet.

You can read more about work place chaplaincy by downloading Chaplains at Work December 2019, the latest newsletter from CIGB

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