New Chaplains and New Chapels

 (from Eric)

When our team returned from the Serge conference last month, we found a new face leading morning chapels at the hospital.  Last year, after decades of faithful service, Pastor Pascal Nyawenda retired from his role as a Kibuye Hospital chaplain.  Now, Pastor Mélance has arrived to fill that void, joining Pastor Silas and Madame Pascaline on the chaplain service dedicated to spiritual care at the hospital.  It has been a joy to see the enthusiasm and energy that a new person has added to the team's work.  We see them praying with inpatients and outpatients, and if you take the time to ask them, they will enthusiastically share stories of healing, repentance, conversion, consolation and faithful presence.

Pastor Mélance, Pastor Silas, and Madame Pascaline

One of the things that I love about our chaplains is that they embrace not only the spiritual care of patients and their family members here at Kibuye, but also the employees and the numerous students that pass through the hospital at different stages of training.

Ever since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been a challenge to decide how to handle the long-standing practice of daily times of morning prayer/singing/devotions from 7:30 to 8:00 each morning.  After trying a number of different models, the hospital leadership restarted this practice a couple months ago.  The response from students and staff has been encouraging with an enthusiastic participation.

The chaplains' response to this was to reflect on how best to use this reinstated time to engage well those that are involved.  They are planning a number of different activities, but one of them is to dedicate one week per month to a thematic message.  The idea is, instead of a different speaker and theme each day, there will be one speaker on a chosen theme who will give four different messages from Monday to Thursday, and then Friday will be dedicated to Q&A.

I had the honor of being the inaugural speaker for a theme week, the chaplains asking me to speak on "Walking with Those who Suffer".  On Monday, I spoke on suffering according to the Bible.  On Tuesday, I spoke on the significance of a God who has suffered and died.  On Wednesday, we talked about consoling the sufferer, and on Thursday, we talked about Finding Hope.  Even this week, it seems that these messages have changed the tenor of some of our conversations about our work in ways that I think are positive and authentic.

I wasn't sure what to expect in the Friday Q&A.  I appreciated what the chaplains were doing by leaving that time for more interactions, but I wasn't sure how people would respond.  After an initial long silence, the questions started to come and had no difficulty filling the time.  They asked about God's redemption of evil and the presence of temptations in their lives.  They asked why prayer matters if God is sovereign.  They asked about the difficulties of caring for the whole person when the work is voluminous and overwhelming, as well as the proper way to talk about the offer of eternal hope with someone who has just receiving hope-shattering news.  In other words, they didn't pull any punches!

Pray for these chaplains in the months to come and for the patients and staff and students that they will impact.

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