Since taking up my present pastorate in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, I have tried all sorts of ways to get people under the sound of the gospel of grace, with a measure of success.
But imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, I was approached about becoming ‘chaplain’ to a large commercial enterprise! A family member who works at the nearby ASDA supermarket heard that they were planning to appoint a chaplain at their relatively new store.
Without consulting me, she put my name forward and only then told me about it! However, her suggestion was taken up by the management and I was asked to go to see them.
I went to the store to meet the manager. He seemed very young, but was keen to implement this latest idea. He spoke with enthusiasm about ASDA and told me that they had recently won a prestigious award as a ‘caring company’.
Certainly, as a recently acquired part of the giant American Walmart Company, they are very innovative and forward looking, and seem keen to care for their most valuable asset – the staff.
Their intention is that I should be available to share the gospel with all or any who feel a need for what he called ‘a spiritual dimension’ in their lives. This applies primarily to staff, but I have the ‘freedom’ of the store and am able to speak to shoppers as well, as occasion arises.
I should not ‘push’ but ‘enable’, he said. The idea is that I should circulate in the staff dining area during break times, and elsewhere in the store, wearing a badge bearing my name and the word ‘chaplain’.
I can visit the store whenever I like (my present plan is to do so twice a week). My responsibility is simply to be available as and when needed.
My first experience of this new opportunity has just taken place. A staff member took me round the store and made as many introductions as possible.
Several of the staff seemed interested in my arrival, on the surface at least, including the man who took me round. He is about to leave the company, but I expect to have further contact with him nonetheless.
First impressions are positive. Please pray that this unexpected opening will be used to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.