“Needing to reach the lost but finding no place to work often produces frustration in saints and lay people,” said Bro. William Dillon, director of the Occupational Chaplains Association (OCA). “What if your church had an open door at the local police department or at a large industrial plant in your area? Not only would you have access to many souls, but it can become the means of helping your people find their place to work in the kingdom of God.”
Currently, there are about 250 chaplains in the United Pentecostal Church International, including two FBI chaplains and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chaplain. The OCA is the endorsing agent for the UPCI for all non-military occupational chaplains. The main areas utilized are hospital/hospice, law enforcement/fire/first responders, occupational/industrial and VA chaplains.
An occupational chaplaincy leads to evangelism opportunities and opens doors for the local church. “The main reason both pastors and laymen/women should consider becoming a chaplain is the harvest,” explained Bro. Dillon. “We have a vast army in our churches yet untapped. OCA never works around the pastor; we train workers to work with the pastor and in the local church’s vineyard. If a pastor allows one of his saints to become a chaplain, that pastor would have to sign the application giving his approval with a yearly renewal. This way the local pastor is always in control and directing his workers.”
Occupational chaplaincy also opens doors for the pastor. “As a pastor of an average size church, when I became a chaplain, I immediately became the spiritual influence for 3,600 employees and their families,” said Bro. Dillon. “At the same time, I was an industrial chaplain I was also a hospital chaplain and a jail chaplain. This gave me so much access to people in the hospital and jails. I had all the codes to the ER and other secure areas and authority to work in all areas. Chaplain work has also given me opportunity to meet and get to know the owner and upper management of corporations.”
The training needed for this ministry is overseen by the OCA Director of Education, Dr. Sidney Poe, who travels the country teaching live training sessions. Level One training takes about 20 hours with a test following. Passing this course allows a person to apply to become a chaplain. There are also two distance learning sites, one at Ministry Central and at www.ocachaplains.com. “We teach about sudden unexpected death notification, critical incident management and defusing, and a host of other things. Next month we are scheduled to film Level Two for our distance learning,” he said.
Getting a position as an occupational chaplain can be accomplished in several ways. “Many chaplains get their foot in the door by volunteering at sheriff’s departments, hospitals and other places,” explained Bro. Dillon. “Recently our chaplain in Washington State was given a full-time law enforcement position at Pierce County, and our director over the VA was just hired as a full- time VA chaplain in Hawaii. In addition to this, we have spun off part of OCA who kept the name of Occupational Chaplains of America and they are a ‘for profit’ corporation out of Wisconsin. They gain contracts with businesses to supply chaplains. They also pay their chaplains for their service. If you know of a business in your local area that would be open to hearing about the benefits of chaplaincy, they will send someone to meet with that company’s management.”
Bro. Dillon shared one story of how this ministry has worked successfully. “Chaplaincy work is being an emotional and spiritual caregiver,” he explained. “During the time I was a chaplain in an industrial setting, we were able to win the plant manager, who later became a general licensed UPCI minister. I never taught him a Bible study or gave him a tract, and he never came to our church, but when his wife died, I was simply kind to him and spent six hours with him that day. I then traveled to another state to preach her funeral. Later, when he did come to church and received the Holy Ghost, he told me this, ‘There is nothing you could have ever said that would have caused me to come to your church, but when you were so kind to me I realized that you had something I did not have and I had to come see.’”
For more information on OCA, you may contact Bro. William Dillon directly at William@plisolutions.com or 870-814-0901, or Admin. Assistant Lori Ann at 662-346-1049, Loriann@plisolutions.com. You may contact any of the other directors through the website.