My Chaplaincy story has taken a while. We read in the Old Testament how the Lord called Samuel and he thought it was Eli, until Eli himself realised it was the Lord. (1 Samuel, 3). My brothers and sisters how often the Lord calls us and we don’t recognise his voice, how often do we miss his calling and let other things get in the way, or we mistake him for something else?
Almost fifteen years ago I went to a meeting and saw some information about retail Chaplaincy. This really interested me as I had been looking and hoping for ways to extend my church pastoral ministry into the community. After the meeting, I spoke to my Minister about the nature of this kind of chaplaincy and, after much thought and prayer, I took part in CIGB’s training course.
Unfortunately I became ill and had to postpone completing the course. A few years on, the thought of being a Chaplain had not left my mind and there was a nagging voice in my head saying “When are you going restart?” Something always seemed to get in the way, but I prayed about it and asked the Lord “Is this what you want me to do? And can I do it?”
Some months later I restarted and completed the course, thoroughly enjoying every moment.
Corrie Ten Boom said: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God”.
I joined the team of Chaplains in the Bullring shopping centre and Link Street, in Birmingham city centre believing that the Lord wanted me to minister as a retail Chaplain.
Chaplaincy has its highs and lows: there are moments of elation and then the challenging times when you wonder what you’ve got yourself into and how to get out of it. But I’ve found that with prayer and a bit of humility, I find the right thing to say or do.
“Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle”. (1 Samuel 3:10-11)
I used to be a midwife and news of births takes me back to the maternity scene!
Hearing the words “new addition” brings extra joy to me. It’s such a privilege when folks talk about them-selves and their families, such as telling you when a new addition to the family is due.
I find being a retail Chaplain very rewarding and feel blessed to be of service. People speak to me freely, and simply listening provides the key to most answers, along with reassurance. One of the greatest things about lis-tening to people in this way is that different views can be exchanged.
Respect shown for others views is a good basis for friendship. I quote the writer S.Day “All human beings are in my view, creatures of Gods design, we must re-spect all human beings. This does not mean that I have to agree with their choices or agree with their opinions, but indeed I respect them as human beings”.
One of the low points for me is the closure of shops and of course the loss of jobs.
Sometimes there is notice of a closure and I am able to support staff – and hopefully hear about new jobs else-where. It is heart-wrenching when you arrive at a shop that was supposedly doing well only to find it closed and you never get to see the staff again.
Prayer is a really important and powerful tool in my ministry. Sometimes these requests come from the most unexpected quarters, from those who have told me in the past they have no faith or they are a nonbe-liever. This is satisfying to me, as it seems that the more they come to know me as an individual representing God, they love what they see in the person.
Someone said to me “Dolvis, I love speaking with you, as each time you put a smile on my face”.
That was good to hear, but, I know that what I said or did was not just me but God working through me.
Chaplaincy can be a bit of a rollercoaster, but It is very fulfilling and I give God praise for giving me the strength and courage to accept the call and carry out his work here in the heart of the city.
Republished from the Churches and Industry Group Birmingham and Solihull (CIGB)’s newsletter “Chaplains at Work”. To find out more about Workplace Chaplaincy with CIGB see their website www.cigb.org.uk.