Compassion in times of crisis

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Chaplaincy – Emergencies, Trauma and Disaster

“Space to receive the other..”

Chaplains provide emotional and spiritual care, comfort and compassion to people affected by trauma as a result of an emergency or disaster.

Chaplains are trained and equipped to respond to emergency scenes, relief and recovery centres. They emotionally and spiritually care for individuals and community.

“Chaplains were originally priests or ministers attached to a chapel, military unit, ship, prison, hospital, college or other institution in order to provide a specific population with spiritual support. Today, a chaplain is assigned to a special ministry within their community. Although Christianity was one of the first to embrace chaplain ministry, other traditions such as Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism recognize and encourage the particular gifts of chaplains.”

The theological foundation for disaster relief chaplaincy is supported through the mandate to bear one another’s burdens (see Gal. 6:28); and therefore, “You must be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36, NLT). The cup of cool water and the Good Samaritan also reinforce this imperative.
The ministry of pastoral care has often been called “the ministry of presence.”

“A major premise of pastoral care amid crisis is presence. The care of souls first requires being there. Simple, empathic, listening presence is a primary pastoral act, the presupposition of all other pastoral acts.” The power of this ministry is in its altruistic service. If chaplains provide compassion by bearing another’s burdens, then chaplains choose to “suffer with” those who are suffering. Providing compassion requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone and intentionally entering a place of crisis—danger, pain, loss, or grief—during the spiritual and emotional crises of life.

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