Ministering to Those in Pain
by Steve Rude

When I began my clinical pastoral education to be a chaplain, one of the first things my supervisor told me was that when I enter a patients’ room I am standing on holy ground. It wasn’t long before I knew it was true. Every day at the Adventist Medical Center we stand on holy ground with our patients. Below is such an event, as shared by Leo Zakhariya, a fellow chaplain here at Portland Adventist Medical Center.

“This episode took place in one of the intensive care rooms where a female patient in her fifties was fighting for her life. She was intubated but alert and coherent. I entered the room and introduced myself. The patient’s eyes filled with tears. I asked her, “Are you hurting?” She answered by shaking her head, no. “Are you in spiritual pain?” She nodded her head, yes. I told her I would be right back and left the room. I found a clipboard, paper and pen for her to write on and returned.

Extending the clipboard and the pen to her, I asked her to share with me about her pain. She wrote: ‘I am dying and I am afraid.’ Tears were streaming from her eyes. I read her pain and fears and shared how much God loves her. I shared about Jesus dying for hurting people, including her, and His determination to save everyone who puts their trust in Him. I prayed with her and then went on to other patients.

The next day, I came in for a follow-up visit. When she saw me she made slight movements with her right arm. I approached her and held her hand. She tried to squeeze my hand for support. This time I shared more about the love of Jesus and what happens when we die. I shared His promise to come back and raise His children from the dead and take them to His eternal home. She listened with tears in her eyes. Her family entered the room. I let her know about her family coming into the room and asked whether she would like to talk to them. She signed yes. She took the clipboard and wrote with her feeble hand, “He comforted me,” and passed it on to her family. The next day I stopped by her room and she was still alert. I asked her: “Are you still afraid to die?” She looked at me and shook her head, no. A few hours later, doctors removed the life support she was on and she passed away peacefully.”