Letter: Chaplaincy funding is important

AS I watch my husband's chaplaincy funding dwindle into extinction I feel the need to clear up any confusion about what he actually does.

I know there's a lot of negativity out there about Chaplains, but as a wife of a Chaplain for 10 years and after being a casual worker for all the different Chaplains in all our local High Schools I feel compelled to explain how vital their role is for our young people in our community before it is too late and their funding is completely cut.

These community servants are not Bible bashers, nor are they glorified Sunday School teachers, rather they are highly trained and hand picked professionals who also happen to have shoulders to cry on when students are having a challenging time at school or home.

They are someone to come to for a hot chocolate and encouragement when life seems too tough.

Knowing that, that staff member genuinely cares about them because their eyes light up, when they see them.

That the Chaplain knows without asking but by listening that they hardly made it through the night last night because the pain in their life was so overwhelming, so instead they have been cutting themself, again.

Chaplains are not teachers or students but the adult that they can confide in, who will stand up for them in court when they need to bear witness before their student's abusers because they were the one person they could come to.

That adult who had the time and patience to really hear them, believe them and see them for who they truly were.

Then in turn be faithful to follow through with helping them be brave enough to tell who needed to be told, even though they were scared it would rip their family apart.

Then later, that student feeling empowered encourages other friends to come forward and tell their story, so they too can get help and stop the cycle of abuse.

Causing a ripple effect not just through the school but our community bringing light to dark places because the truth has finally set them free.

The Chaplain is the one that leads the funeral when there is a car crash killing four popular students, and everyone is losing hope.

Yes the chaplain may have their own particular faith and life journey that they share with students from time to time when asked, but it takes just as much faith to believe we are somehow related to monkeys, or that we are an evolutionary bi-product of whatever beast happened to survive because they were the fittest.

Not exactly a self esteem booster, and quite frankly being told they are loved by a higher power, that they are unique and valued and have been created for a specific purpose, gives them more hope then hearing there's already too many people on the planet and lectures about population growth (when scientific studies have proven there is 3 times more resources then we need in the world...if only certain countries would learn to share).

Alternatively, instead of teaching students they are part of the problem Chaplains empower students by showing them they can be a part of the solution through initiatives like World Vision, Blood Bank, community volunteering… perhaps through such experiences our community could celebrate future problem solvers.

Our young people are growing up in a tough, fast pass world.

Their innocent childhoods are becoming a lost memory. Cyber bullying is rife and keeping a positive social status is essential.

But they still long for something more, something tangible, something to fulfil their mind, body and soul.

As well as swiping a screen and scrolling through cyber space for answers they need to be able to come to school knowing there is at least one person who truly loves them, they're not just there for a pay cheque (which is mostly fundraised by those who care and is a fraction of what other stuff members get paid), but they are there because they truly care about the welfare of each student, regardless of their lifestyle, background or beliefs.

Are you being fed?

Or are you choosing to starve or hurt yourself?

Are the first questions that come to a Chaplain's mind when they see an individual student.

If not let's feed you so you can concentrate in class, is their next action.

A survey conducted by Channel TEN: "The Project" found that "Pastoral Care" was the number one attribute parents looked for in their child's high school.

Chaplains are an extremely valuable member of any school.

They are a floating staff member who can rise up to help the school in any activity they can possible serve in, someone to walk through the corridors, be ready to assist any teacher or student in a classroom or chat to a crying student who is sitting alone outside the room or in the playground and take time to really get to know why that child is struggling.

Chaplains are concerned for their students long after they have left work or their students have left school.

Many times my husband has flopped on his bed after work from shear emotional exhaustion.

Then been willing to take time out from his weekend to lay himself bear and vulnerable before a church congregation and ask for prayer support and for finances so he can keep going.

"If only they could see what I see and I could be completely honest, about what teenagers are really going through in our local high schools," he sometimes says, but some burdens are too difficult to share so he continues to take up his cross, and carry these kids, even though his position is questioned and often misunderstood.

Yours Sincerely,

A Chaplains wife.

You can make tax-deductible donation to our local Chaplains via:

Direct Deposit: Summerland Credit Union BSB: 728 728 Account Number: 25806668 Account Name: REAL Inc.