(Photo: Unsplash/Aidan Bartos)

By David E. Ficken

People die every day. I would imagine you personally know how hard it is to lose someone. It is rough! Some say the death of a spouse is one of the most difficult things to deal with in life.  Others quickly add that the death of a child is equally hard. Any death is incredibly challenging because of the grief that ensues. We miss that person and wish he was still here with us!

Now imagine being someone who might have been able to save the person who died. The emergency services responder (police, fire, paramedic) is the one who arrives on the scene to find a panicked and distraught friend or family member. The responder’s training kicks into gear, but ultimately, he or she can’t save the baby who isn’t breathing, the heart attack victim or the person who completed suicide literally seconds before emergency personnel kicked in the door.

This is where the Specialized Pastoral Ministry (SPM) chaplain enters the picture. The SPM chaplain takes the love and peace of Christ outside the four walls of his local church and shares it with responders who are hurting. He climbs into the back of the ambulance to spend time with the crew who is cleaning up, filling out reports and re-stocking the ambulance in preparation for the next call.

The SPM chaplain sits in on the CISM (critical incident stress management) defusing session with the group of responders, including police and dispatch. These responders long for a nonjudgmental ear. They hope to see glimpses of light after dark events. During defusing, the chaplain hears their pain. He listens to those who can’t help but think of their own loved ones even as they are caring for the loved ones of others.

Responders know they can get in touch with the SPM chaplain at any hour of any day. They receive from that chaplain unconditional support and care because of pastors and congregations who are willing to reach out in this specialized way to a special group of people.

For more information about LCMS Specialized Pastoral Ministry, visit lcms.org/spm.

The Rev. David E. Ficken (esc@lcms.org) is coordinator of LCMS Specialized Pastoral Ministry and pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Plover, Wis.

Posted Sept. 26, 2019