Notes from a hospital chaplain, prayer gets personal, and a wonderful surprise

This is the first-ever edition of ‘Three small things’ – Eternity’s new column where we share ‘small stories’ submitted to Eternity – and we are absolutely delighted to be able to share these submissions.

Here, we learn about the opportunity God has given Stuart, an Anglicare Health Chaplain, to minister during the pandemic. We also discover how a trip to Lebanon changed Peter’s prayer life. And Dianne shares the surprise it was to be blessed by someone who she had faithfully cared for.

Previously, from Three Small Things ...

Caring during COVID-19: Notes from a hospital chaplain

Stuart is an Anglicare Health Chaplain based at Bankstown Hospital. In this piece, passed on by Anglicare’s media team, he shares how he finds ways to give hope and encouragement to patients as they face increased loneliness, isolation and fear due to COVID-19.

Living in a part of Sydney where COVID-19 infections have been pretty high, I have been taking my own isolation and infection control very seriously. Even more so because I am the only staff chaplain at Bankstown Hospital.

I’m part-time – just two days a week – but not a single patient has had a visit from a family member in the past few weeks. No volunteer chaplains can visit, and no local clergy can either, except for end of life. I know many people are lonely and doing it tough right now.

One patient I met recently at Bankstown Hospital had his world come crashing down around him with an admission that has placed his own mortality front and centre in his field of vision. He had been reviewing his whole life and asking “Why?” in just about every dimension.

Chris (not his real name) had a framework of faith that is biblical, but he had not been to church in so many years that those truths were distant memories.

He talked, he lamented, and I listened. From time to time, I quoted verses that echoed truths that he hadn’t thought much about for years, but that he could now affirm with faith in his heart, and with a “yes” on his lips.

Nurses had given him many cards from loved ones for a birthday he recently had while in hospital, but in conversation, I discovered that he did not know their content, because of his vision impairment and hearing loss.

So I offered to read them to him in the quiet of post-lunch rest time. His face lit up. And as he listened to message after message of love from friends and family, his delight grew. We prayed, and we thanked God for his constant presence, and that we were made for relationships of love, both with Him and with each other, in Christ.

The power of prayer becomes personal

Peter shares how a trip to Lebanon revealed the power of prayer to him personally – and has given him a passion to pray for others

A few years back I experienced the power of prayer in a very personal way.

I was in Lebanon, part of a challenge trip with Open Doors and the 4th Muskateer (a fundraising group), in which I and 25+ other “Muskathletes” would be meeting locals working with refugees, just across the border from Syria.

Before the trip, we had spent between 3 months to a year fundraising for essentials, to be delivered by the local church in Lebanon and Iraq. I personally raised over 10 grand.

I had family and many friends praying for me in the lead-up and during my time away. It was truly an eye-opening time, playing with war-affected children, visiting refugee camps, hearing people’s stories of terror, loss and escape.

We never felt like we were judged for being rich westerners. We did feel guilty for the feast we had before one such visit, though!

For 4 days I really struggled with getting the sleep I needed, especially after falling in love with a fellow muskathlete!

The final challenge of the trip was a gruelling half-day, 63km walk. Some muskathletes ran 21, 42, or even 63km marathons, while 2 attempted 120km on a bike. My walk began at 11pm on the night that I had 2 hours of shut-eye.

I was mentally exhausted, full of emotion at all the stories I had heard. At some point after starting the final 21km lap, I saw what I believe to be a hallucination. After finishing and arriving at our hotel, rather than feeling exhausted I had immense energy and spirits. Soon after I started having episodes of paranoia, due to my exhaustion. I could have severely hurt myself, but the team and God were with me. I eventually got the sleep I needed and returned home to Perth safely.

What I found out when I returned was how many people had been praying for me, including a friend who on the day of my sickness suddenly felt for me and prayed for me like I was her son. I truly experienced the power of prayer, and I have now such a compassion for those with mental illnesses.

The situation in Lebanon is far from over. Believe in the power of prayer and pray for Lebanon.

‘As we sow, we reap’

Dianne shares the wonderful surprise it is to be blessed by someone you have faithfully cared for

Yesterday an elderly neighbour who I have cared for daily for around 6 years found out that I had run out of meat. I am on a pension myself and pay large rent.

I had resigned myself to making a stir fry veg dish and adding cashews and rice. My neighbour gave me a whole chicken.

Today I sat down to a lovely roast dinner. I haven’t done that in quite a while.

This afternoon I took her a portion of the chicken with roast potatoes and pumpkin, covered with gravy.

As we sow, we reap. God is faithful! Amen!

Would you like to submit a “small story” of own to be published in our ‘Three small things’ column? All Eternity readers are welcome to! Learn more here