Chaplaincy more than just prayer
Exercise, cooking and sharing a meal are just some of the ways Carinity Chaplain Grant Nelson connects with people on a spiritual level at The Park Centre for Mental Health west of Brisbane.
“The Park”, at Wacol provides a diverse range of adult mental health services, including extended inpatient care and rehabilitation and secure and forensic care.
“People are often here for long periods of time as opposed to a typical hospital stay so the diversity of the activities I do is both challenging and a highlight of my role as Combined Churches Chaplain,” Grant said.
“There have been many instances where through God I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”
“For me, things like sharing a meal can be incredibly spiritual. When I meet people in the wards sometimes we will just talk through their issues, pray or read scripture which is what people usually see chaplains doing. I also do things that are important to each person individually.”
Grant is one of 25 chaplains whose work with Carinity assists over 13,000 people annually in hospitals and residential aged care communities across the state.
However, the road to chaplaincy wasn’t an easy one for Grant, who trained originally as a physiotherapist.
“I came to a crossroads in my career. A friend suggested I try chaplaincy and I said I’d pray about it. And to my horror I felt God was asking me to look into chaplaincy. It wasn’t something I wanted to do at the time. I trained as a chaplain and I gave it a year. That was 16 years ago.”
He said many people thought of school chaplains when he mentioned his work but there were many aspects to chaplaincy especially across hospitals. People were also surprised to discover there is formal training for chaplaincy.
“An average day I make plans to see a variety of clients but I usually bump into someone I hadn’t planned on seeing or who I haven’t met and they are in need so often my plans get pushed aside. It’s the challenging part of the job but it’s also exciting. Flexibility and openness is very important in this line of work.”
“One particular story that stands out is when I helped a young man reconnect with his family. He’d committed a grave offence which had resulted in his father dying. He came to church in the facility but would always just stare at the ground. After a while he started to look up occasionally and he’d always have tears in his eyes. We started speaking and we prayed together often.”
“He asked to be baptised because he wanted God in his life. His father had been a Christian and in a way he was honouring his father by going down this path towards God. His mother and sister came to the baptism and it was this incredible moment of being washed clean and starting a new life for him and his family.”
“Just before he was discharged from The Park, he asked me to pray with him to see if he could go to an important family celebration. Due to the nature of the relationship of his family and other things, I wasn’t sure this was going to happen.”
“I spoke to him over the phone after he was discharged and he told me not only was he able to go to the family gathering, but that a family member had asked him to play a key role in it as well. It was an act of forgiveness and acceptance that I thought was incredibly powerful.”
“When you’re stretched to practice faith in the face of despair and hopelessness. God grows you and changes you and it’s a really wonderful experience. I’m very glad God led me into hospital chaplaincy.”
Carinity is currently looking to train and place more hospital chaplains across Queensland. In conjunction with the Training Collaborative, Carinity is offering a new, completely online course in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care with volunteer positions available. Find out more at www.carinity.org.au/certificateivchaplaincy
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Sugget, Communications Officer, Carinity
Ph: (07) 3550 3769 / 0409 865 930