Prior to becoming a RRT chaplain, Chuck Bender has seen his fair share of crises. As a paramedic and firefighter of 33 years, he is quite seasoned in helping those in tragedy.
“People in these situations need spiritual and emotional care. Once you’ve been through losing everything you own, where do you start? How do you begin the process? People generally don’t know how to cope with stuff like that. That’s why we’re here.”
Bender explained that the chaplains do not merely share Scripture with the victims and leave. “We develop a relationship with them, even if it’s over a short period of time. We do this through simply showing them the love of Christ.”
No Stranger to Pain
Bender got to know a local young man in his late 20′s named Travis, a single dad with a six-year-old son. Travis is no stranger to pain.
Several years ago he was serving our country in Iraq when his Hum-V blew up. Seriously injured, he was sent back to the United States to recover. One day, shortly after he was healed, he was backing out of his driveway and broadsided by a speeding drunk driver. Again, he was seriously injured and had to spend some time healing.
Once he healed from the car accident, he was at his home one evening when it was violently invaded by robbers. He was beaten severely by the perpetrators – yet again, another recovery to make.
Now, Travis is recovering from the flood. Neighbors told Bender that he waded through neck-deep water to rescue them from their own flooded homes.
“It seems like I’ve got nine lives, and I’ve used up all of them. I’m concerned about not being around for my son,” Travis told Bender.
Bender then explained to Travis that God has a plan for everyone, and asked him if he knows Christ. Travis told him yes, he does know Christ, but that it has been difficult to make it to church because he works nights, which makes it hard for them to get ready the following morning.
Chaplains encouraged Travis to renew his relationship with the Lord. “People throughout the Bible have suffered, but prevailed through God,” said Bender. “We gave him reassurance that God still loves him.”
At this point, Travis began weeping, and acknowledged that he needs to bring his son up in the ways of God. He committed to renew his relationship with Christ and to seek out a church.
“So many people ask us, ‘if God is good, why does He allow this?’ Jesus didn’t come here to end suffering. He came to reveal Himself. And how He reveals Himself is in the midst of tragedy,” explained Bender. “When tragedy strikes, it is a reminder of how temporary we are. God is there, no matter what happens.”