Positive impact of Great Yarmouth workplace chaplain
Rev Stephen Andrews talks about the impact of his ministry as a workplace chaplain in Great Yarmouth to Asda, NORSE, Camplings Linen Services and the Borough Services, as well as his experiences as a Trust Chaplain at the James Paget University Hospital and as an associate priest in the Great Yarmouth Team Ministry.
How did you come to faith?
I grew up a few doors down from the local vicarage and, after catching me and a few friends messing around in the vicarage grounds, the newly-arrived incumbent encouraged us to think about our wrongdoing. That was it, I was on the journey!
Soon I was attending the church’s Saturday-club, as well as being an active member of the church choir at St. Margaret’s, Great Ormesby.
The vicar and his family were a great inspiration to me. Inevitably, there were times when I would drift back into that casual life of imperfection and brokenness, however I always came back to the belief that God is there to offer support and guidance, even during those times when I was arrogant enough to think that I was the one in control; or in no way in need of his help.
What impact do you think you have in your role as a workplace chaplain?
Primarily, my role as chaplain is about listening, about understanding what stage people are at in their lives, wherever that might be.
As a workplace chaplain, I have come to appreciate how one can have a truly positive impact by showing Christ’s love in each of the places I visit. Make no mistake, Jesus has an amazing way of providing opportunities for people in all sorts of environments, of asking questions that help people make sense of their lives.
I still often encounter people who make it very clear to me that they have no belief in a living God, and they are totally open about that from the very beginning. I, of course, don’t need to say a word; they know I’m a man of faith and so there’s an openness right from the start.
I still feel I make an impact because these same people seem to hang around to see what I’m about, they become friends, and then the barriers begin to come down. I baptise their children in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; I’m sometimes asked to conduct weddings, and most of the funerals I conduct come through the chaplaincy service.
We don’t always do or think the right things but, when people ask us for help, I’m convinced they’ve been watching and have hopefully seen something of Jesus at work in the ministry He has entrusted each one of us with.
Have you ever doubted?
Of course… Faith is about having complete trust in something we cannot see, touch, or even understand. I would gently challenge anyone who says that they haven’t doubted in one way or another.
Our doubting should lead us towards something more positive; towards further enlightening truths. Be it a considered maturity or spiritual growth, there is great benefit in reasoning with oneself, in searching for reasons to believe, and ultimately in understanding the true benefits of faith.
This article and the accompanying photograph was reproduced by kind permission of 'The Magazine' produced by the Diocese of Norwich. You can read the rest of this edition of 'The Magazine' here and you can also sign up to receive your free copy by post.