In the Scripture, the Holy Spirit is called the “Helper” or “Counselor.” Because preachers have used the Greek term so much, many laymen know Him as the Paraclete. The word carries the idea of one who comes alongside to help. As one would walk beside an elderly person to steady him and assist him in his need, so the Holy Spirit walks beside us to meet us in the midst of our needs.
This word could also be used in a human sense. If I were to translate Paraclete referring to a human, I would choose the word chaplain. A chaplain is one who walks beside someone for the purpose of helping in the power of the Holy Spirit. Chaplains simply walk through the day standing and walking beside people who need help.
Oklahoma Baptists have a rich history in chaplaincy. The kinds of chaplains and their mission fields are extremely diverse. Yet in every situation, chaplains are men and women who seek to love, support, encourage, lift up and steady others. Oklahoma Baptists have taken seriously the need to serve and support those whose place of service is not confined by walls or marked by a steeple.
In the next few days there will be chaplains serving at many of the state and county fairs. Carnival workers and their families have very few opportunities to find spiritual nourishment in a church. They live on the road and work extreme hours. But these carnival workers know that there are servants of the Lord who care about them and find ways to touch them with the love of Christ and the Gospel. These servants are called chaplains.
Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. Men and women locked behind bars need the healing Gospel and need desperately to hear a word of hope. They are there because of mistakes—no, sin—and need someone who will love them enough to tell them the truth and call them to repentance. At the same time, these prisoners need a human encourager who will disciple them and help them build a new life. BGCO chaplains serve in the jails and prisons, and thousands come to faith in Christ each year.
Oklahoma Baptist chaplains have also developed a program to prepare prisoners to launch into the outside world. These prisoners receive intensive training on how to find jobs, interview for jobs and relate to the people with whom they will work. I have spoken to graduates of this program and have seen firsthand the impact Oklahoma Baptist chaplains are making in lives of prisoners. Aren’t you glad the BGCO has chaplains who help prepare people to be successful on the outside of the prison walls? Aren’t you glad this is a Gospel-centered program and not just a humanistic program that teaches skills without impacting the heart?
Through the recent wildfires, Oklahoma Disaster Relief chaplains have worked tirelessly to extend the love of Christ to victims who have lost everything. They have stood amidst the ash pile, shared the hope of Christ and prayed with people who have suffered such deep loss.
In addition to the kinds of chaplains already mentioned, there are those who serve in hospitals, law enforcement, military, workplace and many points beyond. These chaplains come alongside people in the workforce every day on the field and in the midst of life to offer hope and peace in the storm.
Your gifts to the Edna McMillan Oklahoma State Missions Offering help provide training and materials for chaplains and the people they serve. I pray you will give generously to impact Oklahoma with the love and grace of Jesus. WE can make a difference.