Initiating a Chaplaincy ministry program within the continent of Africa has proven to be a blessed challenge. Blessed because it has been met with overwhelming acceptance in every place where it has been presented. Challenging because of the sheer volume of people wanting to be trained, and because of the vast distances involved.
Basically, the Chaplaincy ministry is a series of very specialized training sessions which equip both lay people and ministers to go into special professional areas that are not typically open to the church, or to normal church ministries.
We train specialized Chaplains to work in various areas of the Armed Forces, with Police, in hospitals, prisons, schools, businesses, etc. Basically, any institution where people work or live. Chaplains typically work with non-churched people in purely secular and professional institutions. The majority of the work of a Chaplain is done with people who are hurting – people who are experiencing, or who have recently experienced, a severe trauma in their life. Many times this includes the death / loss of a loved one. However, we also work with those who have suffered because of war/civil conflict, natural disasters, and any other reasons that throw people into unexpected trauma and crisis. Our Chaplains are trained to minister to people who are in grief because of severe loss. They are also trained to work directly on the field with soldiers, police, fire-fighters, and other first responders. They are trained to work alongside physicians in emergency rooms, neo-natal units, trauma units and other places where people struggle for life, as well as ministering to their families. The ministry of Chaplaincy is carried out away from the local churches, going directly to the place where hurting people are found. Chaplains learn to become the arms and face of Jesus to people who may never have the opportunity to see and learn of Him in a normal church setting. Our Chaplains work alongside professionals such as soldiers and police, gaining access because of their specialized training and certification to places a typical pastor or minister of the gospel would never be allowed to go.
So far, we have trained Chaplains in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Togo, Chad and Ghana in Africa, along with many, many other countries around the world. I am a founding Board member of the Global Chaplain Coalition, which trains and certifies Chaplains all over the globe. Chaplains who complete our training have an opportunity to become members of this Coalition.
In Africa, our greatest work to date has been in Chad, where earlier this year we graduated 52 Chaplains in a formal service which was attended by city officials as well as leaders from various denominations. I have also trained Para-Military Chaplains in Legos, Nigeria, with an ongoing invitation to return to their headquarters further north in the country to train their main body of Chaplains. We are also working with the military of other countries to provide training to existing Chaplains who have never had the opportunity for this level of professional training.
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