I don't get this often, but it happens that I'm in the position of offering spiritual advice or support to members of other religions, typically at MVA's. As a Christian, obviously I believe that my religious views are right and those of others aren't.
My question is, how do we, as chaplains, and as Christians remain faithful to our own beliefs, and offer meaningful spiritual support to those of differing/conflicting beliefs?
Any chaplains out there with more experience than me?
(3yrs as Fire Service Chaplain.)
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05-31-2000, 05:52 PM #1Chaplain1424Firehouse.com Guest
Spiritual support to other religions
06-02-2000, 05:50 PM #2Firetamer2Firehouse.com Guest
I have passed your question onto my Corps of Chaplains at Fear Not Firefighter Ministries. You posted an interesting question and I thought I would like to get the chaplains that are on staff's opinion. I will post their answers as soon as they send them.
President Firefighter Ministries
06-05-2000, 02:12 AM #3Firetamer2Firehouse.com Guest
As promised here are the answers to your question.I wouldn't say that I have "more experience" but I have tried to be open to
those who are in need.....and if they are not Christian, but have some sort
of religious belief, try to remember the Scripture in John's Gospel where
Jesus is speaking about the 'other sheep'....(John 10:16) and that gives me
courage to believe that "every knee shall bow" at the name of Jesus -
Rev Jim Hill
President Firefighter Ministries
06-05-2000, 02:13 AM #4Firetamer2Firehouse.com Guest
I too have been a Chaplain for a little over three years and I have learned
I must believe in what I have to offer.This friendship (that starts in a
crisis and possibly ends within a few hours after the parties involved have
returned to their respective places), may never have the chance to be built
like a normal relationship, so I must have a most positive influence on them
in that short time therefore God's light must guide my path in these hours
of darkness. It's sounds easy doesn't it? I thought so too! Here it is in
short, go back to my opening statement "I must believe in what I have to
offer ." Find out what confirms your relationship with God, for me it is
Eph. 2: 8-9.
I am Baptist because I was raised a Baptist, and at any time the Baptist
teachings conflict with my relationship with God I will no longer be called
I come in contact with many religions and found out that if I make an
effort to contact a Minister of their like faith, the victims become more
comfortable with me most of the time. For those that have no church home or
are from out of town, I try to be a liaison between hospital staff and
family. This shows the family that I do have an interest in them and
conversation usually develops about this type of ministry, and the doors do
If the person in need is offended by your religious beliefs they may be
under conviction by the Holy Spirit, and may try to blame it on a difference
in beliefs, or they may feel threatened by you presence (Satan and his staff
can spot a true Christian a long way off). Don't take it personal ask the
person if you can pray with them. If they say no, leave a contact with them
in case they change their mind and bow out graciously. If they say yes pray
with them in an Ernest and thankful way, use prayer to open the door to
share your faith.
I have found out that the majority of crisis faith decisions are shallow
and are hard fought to change a person once the crisis is over, this is not
to say that the commitment is not genuine, but that the person may not have
a source of renewal for the spirit such as church home or a pastor that can
see to spiritual growth. Therefore they become discouraged and let down that
a radical change has not come about, and may never trust a "Christian"
again. If someone does make an "Emergency Decision" make sure you have a
pastor or church leader take hold of the reins before you let go. In other
words make contact at a convenient time with that pastor to follow up as
soon as possible.
Don't try to help that person solve every problem that arises in the crisis,
you want make them comfortable in the arms of God as He surrounds them with
mercy and love (He knows every need). Prayer is the most comforting thing
that you can do for a family in the midst of a crisis. Try to meet as many
of the small needs that you can (be a servant), lend them a coat if they are
cold, bring them tissue if they are crying, if the time is growing long
provide a meal or soft drinks, coffee, you may also ask them if they have
any medications due to be taken or lost in the incident. (If so bring it to
the attention of the medical staff). If you feel that counseling is needed,
( and in most crisis situation it is), don't try to counsel while the
situation is still developing, I've found that on the spot counseling is not
very effective, because they are usually preoccupied with a developing
Immediate counseling (from my personal experience) works best after that
person has been able to sleep at least 6 hours, this may be 12-24 hrs after
the immediate crisis ended (physical rest does wonders in helping a person
develop a mind set to accept the crisis). Referrals work great, use other
Christians to help counsel, especially in areas of legal matters and
financial matters, find those who can give expert advice and prearrange an
agreement with them so that they are not caught in the middle when you call
I know how you feel about crossing the lines of religion, there have been
many times that I have prayed with Catholic families, Church of Christ,
Methodist, and Episcopal, but I have yet to find anyone that was offended by
my prayers that was open to receiving what I could offer as a Chaplain.
Christ's ministry was based on the fact that He meet the physical needs of
the person before He met the spiritual needs.
Lastly never give advice that cannot be backed up by scripture, I never give
references to a counselor of any type if I know that they are not a
Christian or if they do not incorporate Christ into their counseling
sessions (be they, mental health professional, financial counselors, even
Put on the full armor of God, and stand firm in your faith(reference Eph
6:11-20). If you find yourself in a situation where your faith cannot with
stand temptation ( to argue about different beliefs, etc.) you do what
Joseph of the Old Testament did and flee(Genesis chapter 39). They may have
your cloak as proof of your presence but, at the time of judgment your
innocence will be known.
I hope this information can help you, please feel free to share it with
others in our field of ministry.
God bless your endeavor,
Chaplain Gerald Hall
President Firefighter Ministries
06-08-2000, 05:01 PM #5C-12Firehouse.com Guest
I think first of all that we have to look at what we can offer and what we may noy be able to offer. I'm a Roman Catholic Priest who not only is a Fire/Police Chaplain but I'm also a Chaplain in the United States Navy Reserve. There have been many,many instances where I have been where the folks involved are of a different background faithwise.I'm the only Chaplain for the FD of 130 members and the PD with 160 members in a community so vast because it is an immigrant city where several languagues are spoken so there are even more challenges in just communication. Yet what's the real reason we do what we do? In some instances a compassionate presence to victims of a terrible trauma may be all we can hope to accomplish and that's awesome in itself. In many situations I attempt to help others reach and make connections to their minster or rabbi if at all possible. I truly believe that doing nothing is the worst option which does not really exist in this business. Ican't begin to count how many beautiful ministerial opportunities I have been involved in because I have trusted God and allowed myself to help anyone in need. I really believe it is are faith supported by God's love which makes us who we are. We draw strength from many areas scripture being one which allows to do the work we do. Let His strength work through you to help others regardless of who they. God saw fit to put you in this place in the first place...Trust Him.
Fr. Jim Seymour
"Somewhere-Everyday, We Fight For Life..."
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