In times of grief, distress or disruption it is often helpful to seek out someone who can come alongside with a keenly listening ear and helpful perspectives. The chaplain is such a person. In him you have a confidential, non-judgmental sounding board with whom to share your burden, be guided to find your own answers, and discover where God is in the midst of your journey.
This ministry is a form of "pastoral care." Pastoral care is a term applied where people offer help and caring to others in their church or wider community. Lawrence Holst, in his book, Hospital Ministry: The Role of the Chaplain Today, suggests this practical definition of pastoral care.
"I would define the basic, fundamental role
of pastoral care as
the attempt to help others, through words, acts, and relationships,
to experience as fully as possible
the reality of God's presence and love in their lives."
Generically, a chaplain's ministry usually occurs outside the walls of the local congregation. Chaplains extend compassionate care to persons who may come from a variety of social backgrounds and represent a broad spectrum of religious preferences. Chaplains are required to receive advanced training and education in order to serve as ministers in this specialized arena. At their core Chaplains are joyful, selfless people who are emotionally and spiritually mature and able to share God's hope and comfort with those who have experienced tragedy, loss or disruption in their lives.