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Southland Christian Ministry Training

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Thankfulness in Diversity

It has been said that “life was not meant to be easy”, we all know that, yet in the normal daily trials of life we forget! Being away on the annual chaplain’s conference this week we were reminded of the fact our role is to be intimately involved with people going through those difficult times, and how important it is for us to fine tune our skills. So we were put through presentations on death notifications, issues regarding suicide, new SI’s (standing instructions) and DI’s, (defence instructions) teaching related to blood born diseases at crash sites and the ongoing challenges faced by techos who worked on the F111… heavy stuff!

Yes, our role is to help people deal with all those difficult situations, to talk about their fears and failures, and somewhere in all that find hope and faith to keep going. So this week we also spent time worshipping together, experiencing the diversity of our faith traditions. We did this not just as a group of chaplains but by visiting some of the great churches in Melbourne. We spent time at the Catholic and Anglican Cathedral, the Uniting, Presbyterian and Baptist inner city churches as well as the biggest synagogue! In our increasingly diverse multicultural nation we also had a presentation on the theology of Islam.

The great food in the Laverton Officer’s mess was offset by the opportunity to do a physical fitness test (which I passed) and the great company… not just thirty odd chaplains but a whole bunch of international students who wanted to practice their English and were prepared to listen to my stories. Just trying to explain what a chaplain does was a challenge!

So, all round it was a great week with challenges in the spiritual, mental and spiritual realm. It may not have been an easy week, but with new friendships built and others restored, new concepts learnt and others reaffirmed, new techniques perfected and old ones retuned it was a successful week for which I am thankful.  Consider this:

“…only he who gives thanks for the little things, receives the big things.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

What have you got to be thankful for?

Chaplain Ian Whitley


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