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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)

TITLE: Open Doors
By Ingrid Forsberg


Open Doors

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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This article has been read 221 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/21/14
Thank you for sharing your journey and testimony with us. You expressed your story with vivid detail. Well done.

God bless~
Rhonda Burns08/21/14
Such an admirable thing to do. I appreciated the honesty that filters through your story. I saw a couple of sentences where it seems like the wrong words were used but it didn't distract from the meat of the story. I really enjoyed it. Nice job.
Larry Whittington08/21/14
The Holy Spirit was the one who called you and you answered the call. Thank you.

Use this a a teaching tool. When God opens the door and the Holy Spirit calls, it is best for us to follow the Spirit's leading

Well written but there may be some cleaning up that can be done. I think one sentence or phrase was repeated which could be left out.

Re-read it slowly to see if each sentence has all the words you intended it to have and no extra words.

Again, good work.
Brenda Rice 08/22/14
Thanks for sharing your story with us. You did a good job of telling the story.

You covered the topic well and your writing is clear and easy to read.

As already mentioned I saw an extra or perhaps wrong word in a couple of sentences, but overall you did a good job.
Rachel Barrett 08/24/14
That is a powerful testimony.

I wonder if shorter paragraphs might boost the flow? It already reads well. Could just be me.

I appreciated the message about listening to hear where God is leading.
Robert Douglas Brown08/25/14
A very informative article that was well written. I want you to know that I am in the beginner group as well.

I am not comfortable with reviewing articles at my level in that I am still very green, and do not feel that I have earned my wings yet!

One thing that was brought to my attention early on was that I needed dialog between characters throughout the article.
Other than that, the article should do well with the judges.

God Bless!

Doc B.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/26/14
This is an interesting testimony. I totally understand God's calling and when he calls, he tends to be unrelenting until we obey. The rewards are not tangible, yet priceless. You have a few incomplete sentences and might benefit from having a proofreader or an editor check it out. With that said, I think your testimony would be a perfect fit for FW testimony contest. If you haven't submitted it yet, I'd really encourage you to do so.
Sheldon Bass 08/26/14
I am so pleased you decided to share this here. No matter how well this entry does in the challenge, your content is a winner in my book. Sharing how following the Lord's leading enriches our lives is powerful. I'd like to see you include some of the rewards of walking through that door. Present rewards and eternal.

God's ways are mysterious many times, and He takes our little bit and does a lot with it. A little knowledge, a little talent, a little time...

Keep up the great work for the Lord, wherever He leads! I've worked with adult offenders and know the challenges there. I can't imagine how difficult it must be working with juveniles. Keep Writing!