As a Community Chaplain, I have the opportunity to meet and minister to many different people in many different settings.    Now most people when they think of a “Chaplain” they identify with Military Chaplains serving on active duty providing spiritual support and guidance in peace time and in time of war. They serve those who serve to protect our freedoms and way of life.   To me this is truly a noble calling.  God has called on these men and women of Faith to serve “God and Country”.  It was and is at times, I’m sure a difficult task.   The first military chaplain was an Army Chaplain, Reverend John Hurt, appointed on March 4, 1791.  The Chaplain Corps dates back to July 1775.   One can honestly say that the “Truth”, “The Word of God” has had and continues to be a big part of our military structure for 232 years.

I have a great deal of respect for military chaplains and what they do as I have equal respect for Chaplains ministering in Prisons and Hospitals, Hospice Facilities, Pastoral Care, Biker Chaplains, Veterans, Police and Fireman Chaplains, Emergency Response Chaplains, Rodeo Chaplains, Corporate and Business Chaplains and of course Community Chaplains sometimes referred to as Ministers without walls doing ministry of the moment.

This is what I believe God had intended me to do when I was called to serve, speak “TRUTH” into the community, bring the Good News of the Bible to as many as I can, for as long as I can.  In PSALM 71:18 says “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, until I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come”.

One ministry I have, not necessarily a ministry of the moment, rather a regular visitation ministry to veterans who are incarcerated in one of our local prisons. Most of who are Vietnam Era Veterans, many of whom are highly decorated combat vets.  These veterans served their country and for whatever reasons found themselves tied up in the justice system for reasons I don’t ask.  Many are serving life sentences, but one common factor I have found is that they were and are still patriots who had served during a difficult time in our history (Vietnam War).  Many were draftees, others volunteered to fight in an unpopular war.  I have become a part of their lives, even if it is a devotional visit as a chaplain on a monthly basis or at times when I am invited to one of their services to give an Invocation or Benediction Prayer or a message on Veterans Day.   They ask for prayer, I pray with and for them, they listen intently to a word from God brought to them by their very own Chaplain (as I have been referred to at times) for the Veterans Dormitory.  Of course, there is a prison chaplain at this institution.  A very busy chaplain for the thousand plus inmates he is responsible for.  So, he appreciates his volunteer chaplains that come to minister as they are able.

 On my most recent visit, I gave a devotional message about Truth.    What is Truth?  What is the Cost of truth? What Happened to the Truth?   My scripture reference was john 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me”.   (I think this verse proclaims in no uncertain terms exactly who and what Jesus is).

After giving the message, I would spend time talking and sharing different things that are happening outside the prison and there would be a time of fellowship. Some would ask for individual prayer.   On this occasion, one of the inmates came up to me and ask if I would read a poem given to him from a friend at another prison that he had been transferred from.  He felt that the message from John 4:16 was such that he went to his room and brought me the poem  to read, because he felt that much of what was in my message resonated with him. He wanted to thank me for the word given this evening.  God is good and even if only one person hears the word and accepts it as Truth…. It’s a good day in my life.     Here is the poem…I am not allowed to use the writer’s name due to prison policy.  But permission was given through his friend who indicated to me that he could share it with others.

“Turn The Lights Back On”

I want to show my faith and I want to do good deeds.
God help me to make a difference and to bring the love to those in need.

This world is filled with darkness as if all the light is gone.
But I know with faith in you I can turn the lights back on.

Just a little flicker that’s all it takes to see,
Lord let me be the spark for you to set the world free.

Don’t let me take the credit, let the glory go to you.
Just let me spread the word so others glorify you too.

I want to feed the hungry and show the lost the way.
Put shoes on children’s feet and make it safe for them to play.

No, I don’t want to be famous or the world to know my name.
I just want to spread the message and for you to get the fame.

I know sometimes I stumble. I trip over my feet.
I forget to stand for you and instead I take a seat.

I know that I’m a sinner and without you I am lost.
The debt you paid for me. I can’t even count the cost.

So, I’ll always stand back up and I’ll continue fighting on.
In this world filled with darkness I’ll turn the lights back on.

A tribute to all the veteran inmates.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you Free” (John 8:32)

May God Bless you and may His face shine upon you…..

Until next time,

Chaplain Pat

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