When There is a Difficult Situation, We Respond

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Three church pastors in northern US share what it’s like to be a civilian chaplain.

Unbeknown to many church members and supporters, local church pastors in some regions around the world who, on top of their multiple assignments and duties, minister to their communities by offering chaplaincy services. These pastors provide spiritual comfort, a friendly ear, or just a shoulder to cry on to law enforcement authorities, crime victims, and hospital patients.

Jacquie Biloff, communication director in the Dakota Conference church region, in northern United States, recently interviewed Christian Ronalds, George Shaver, and Michael Temple, three Dakota Seventh-day Adventist pastors who serve as civilian chaplains for law enforcement, prisons and hospitals. Below they share their experiences.—Adventist Review Staff

What was the catalyst for your interest in chaplaincy?

Christian Ronalds: When I was at Andrews University, in Michigan, United States, working on my Master of Divinity degree, I worked at the Adventist Information Ministries (AIM) call center for Adventist television ministries. If the It Is Written TV ministry, for instance, put a phone number on the screen for people to call, AIM would answer that call. AIM also offered chaplaincy and counseling services and served as a suicide hotline. I worked there for about three years.

George Shaver: My father was a policeman for a short time and I have two brothers and two sons in different branches of law enforcement, making me aware of the need for chaplains in law enforcement. While attending college in California, I had a friend in law enforcement who had to use his gun to stop a criminal on a killing rampage. I had the privilege of helping him work through the trauma created by that situation.

Michael Temple: We have a state trooper who is a member of our congregation. We were both attending a cookout and I asked him if the North Dakota barracks in this area had a chaplain. He helped me connect with those who could answer that question, and we went from there.

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