Are Chaplains Bashing Christians?
This is a question I’m often asked, my response is a simple one, “No Chaplains are not Bible Bashing Christians”. However, our Christian faith is our motivation, it’s our drive, but chaplaincy is care and compassion for all. Regardless of faith, background, politics, sexual orientation or any other criteria you can think off. What is important to Railway Mission, is people.
You see, it is like this. My car runs on diesel, indeed it is often said to be ‘a diesel car’. Nonetheless, the truth is it is a car that runs on diesel; it is not that ‘diesel is my car’. Therefore, in the same way, it is our Christian faith that powers our work as chaplains. Like diesel for my car, Christian faith gives chaplaincy energy, but ‘Christian faith is not chaplaincy’.
The saying attributed to St Francis of Assisi is a good guide for any chaplaincy. “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” This reflects Matthew 5:16, in the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds… This is the essence of chaplaincy, doing good, for the benefit of all.
Our Chaplaincy Support
As chaplains, we support people through the ups and downs of life’s journey. Consequently, when people find themselves at the low points, they are often vulnerable. If someone was in a venerable position it would be completely inappropriate to say to that person ‘you need Jesus.’ Besides, this is an at best an exploitation of position and at worst abuse.
Chaplaincy is caring for people, motivated by compassion and faith. It is a response to the need, a response which brings light into the darkness of despair. When someone asks ‘why do you work as a chaplain?’ Then the answer is Christian faith, but faith is the ‘why’ and not the ‘what’ at the heart of chaplaincy.