Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)
TITLE: Open Doors
By Ingrid Forsberg
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No one wanted the job. The position went vacant for months. There were many reasons why I should not have accepted the position of chaplain at Munz and Mendenhall.
Munz and Mendenhall were two juvenile probation camps for male teenage juvenile offenders. The camps were separated only by a small parking lot and were located in a remote mountain area in the northern part of Los Angeles County. Most wards were gang members. Many could not read beyond third grade level. Not knowing the alphabet or times tables common among them. A typical ward was experienced with illegal drug use. Most had fathered at least one, usually several children all by different girls. None were married. None had jobs. It was extremely rare for a ward to have a positive father figure. I was told over 90% did not have any father figure. On average there were about 100 boys in each camp with a complete turnover yearly. This added up to about 400 wards a year.
Being the chaplain was not a small part time job and it was not easy. The responsibilities included Bible studies and Sunday church services at both camps every week, arranging special monthly programs plus weekly counseling. Volunteers had to be located, recruited, and given an orientation. A few volunteers lived in an area reasonably close to the camps. Most had to drive awhile to get there. Each volunteer had to go through a security clearance with the county. The chaplain was continually responsible for a time consuming pile of boring paperwork. I have never been very good at paper work. There were also seasonal events, Christmas being largest.
My understanding of youths such as these was near zero. My experience with juvenile offenders was almost nonexistent. The position paid nothing. I did not possess the physical capacity to hold down a regular job and serve the two camps as chaplain. I did not feel qualified for the job. There were a lot of valid, logical reasons why I should not accept the position as chaplain at Munz and Mendenhall.
There was one reason for accepting the chaplaincy at that outweighed all the logic not to. That reason was so large, so intense, all the negatives faded from view. I experienced an overwhelming compulsion to be the chaplain. It was like trying to sit on a live cattle prod. I had to be the chaplain at Munz and Mendenhall. The crazy thing is I was scared to death to take on that responsibility. Yet when it was offered to me I held onto it as though it were a billion dollars cash.
Now as I look back on the years I spent as Chaplain Forsberg I clearly see some lessons God taught me. Lesson one: He is the only reason I need. Lesson two: He is directing my path. Lesson three: He will not fail me. Lesson four: He always provides where He leads. Lesson five: He brings the harvest. Finally is the fact that God is just as concerned about the remote byways as He is about the highly populated highways. Should I go through a door opened to me? When I know who opened the door I know answer.
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