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Why do I want to be a pastoral care minister?

September 20, 2017 by Bob Frankenfeld

The power of God’s grace through the church community is always available to us. If you ever need that personal reminder - especially during challenging times in your life - then I, and other members of the pastoral care team, want to be available to you.

I want to be there for other people because so many people were there for us while we were climbing the mountain. It makes a difference. Listening, support, and help with basic activities make all the difference.

My challenge

In November 2015, I went to see my son, Alex, at college during dad’s weekend only to find him suffering from severe pain in his side. A trusted friend encouraged us to go the hospital at once. The physicians were concerned and ordered tests. That’s when a CAT scan found a huge growth in his side the size of a melon. He was just 21 years old.

Chemo treatments are toxic.

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Literally, they are poisonous. They take an awful toll on a person. Some days are good, and some days are bad - really bad. On one especially bad day, I recognized that I needed help and reached out to members of our faith community.

The church community was a blessing, helping us with everything from emotional support to simply bringing meals. Our pastor, Paul, introduced us to a family that had been through a similar experience, and they became a great source of support and empathy for us.

After 18 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, the tumor was reduced to the size of a baseball. Then finally, after 14 hours and 14 units of blood, it was surgically removed.

In the midst of tough times, an opportunity to care

Next came rehab. A few weeks after we started there, Alex and I were in the waiting room for a follow-up meeting, sitting next to children playing loud games on digital tablets. The waiting room television was on. It was too loud. We thought about moving. Then, we noticed a man pushing his daughter in a wheelchair not far from us. She was around 10 years old and very frail. It was obvious that she couldn’t use her legs. We could tell she was dying.

I followed her mother and father into the hallway and struck up a conversation with them. Alex and I offered to pray with them, and they accepted. We reminded them that even in the midst of dark times, God is there for them now and always. I felt moved to give them the cross I was wearing. They were thankful that we cared and chose to be with them.

And another opportunity to care

Not long after that, I found myself waiting in line at the airport, in route to the hospital in Houston. Two ticket agents were talking in front of me, and I overheard just enough to make it obvious that one of them was talking about his cancer diagnosis. Once again, I offered to pray with him and gave him my son’s name, encouraging him to reach out to Alex for advice and support. I let him know that God loves him and wants to have a relationship with him. He did later reach out to my son on Facebook, and the two became fast friends.

In a remarkable coincidence, the two ended up in the same hospital a month later. Once again we were able to visit, pray, and encourage one another. I thought about how God must have been the one to bring us together. To this day we still stay in touch.

Both of these experiences taught me the importance of walking with others through times of difficulty and the ongoing value of prayer, support and encouragement.

So why do I want to be a Congregational Care Minister at Munger?

I want to support people when they are hurting.

I want to pray with them in times of trouble, whether they are a long time follower of the faith or just giving God a try for the first time.

I know firsthand how important encouragement is when people are going through trials, and I’ve walked with others through some of the hardest of life’s moments.

Everyone on this planet will go through difficult times. They’re often different, but the one thing that is true for all of us is that when the rain comes, God wants us to have a relationship with him and with others who can walk with us through it all. While none of us knows the future, we can remember 2 Thessalonians 3:3 and know that “the Lord is faithful.” He gives us wisdom, patience and insight.