There are five unsung heroes at Focus on the Family whom I’d like to extend a hardy “Well done!” These men are the backbone behind the Pastoral Care Hotline. Day after day, Roger Charman, John Barner, George Stahnke, Ralph Kelly, and Alex Person field phone calls from pastors who are in crisis. They don’t seek the limelight, just an opportunity to bear the burdens fellow pastors carry.
Here are three short examples of the kind of situations these men address. Naturally, to preserve the confidential nature of the calls, the names have been changed:
- Although they lived in different zip codes, Tracy and Jay spent hours visiting in a chat room. He was twenty-something. She was in her forties, active in church, and well-respected by those who knew her. Over time, she and Jay formed an emotional bond that prompted Tracy to run off and move in with Jay. One problem. Tracy was already married and had kids of her own. Worse, Tracy’s husband, Mark, is a pastor of the church where Jay had attended.
According to Mark, Tracy had been a Proverbs 31 woman. Without warning, she was gone. Cutting virtually all communication with her husband and children, she made it clear she wanted a divorce. Devastated, Mark didn’t know where to turn.
- Linda developed leukemia. The doctors said her best hope was a bone marrow transplant. This costly procedure placed incredible financial burden on her and her husband Phil because Phil was a pastor with minimal insurance coverage. A year later, Linda died leaving Phil with the Herculean task of leading a church while being a single parent of four young children. Understandably, he needed help processing the grief that his family faced. Still shouldering the financial burden from his wife’s medical bills, Phil didn’t have extra funds for the resources his family needed to get through this incredibly difficult time. Not to mention his need for a listening ear to vent his feelings of loss and pain.
- Rachel was 15. For reasons that were unclear, she began to do some cutting – the practice of intentional self-mutilation. Complicating the issues that drove her to such abuse, several years later Rachel was sexually assaulted. Her father, Richard, is a pastor with limited financial resources to provide the counseling his daughter desperately needed.
These are just three of the hundreds of cases where pastors have experienced a personal or family crisis and had virtually no where else to turn. If your pastor is unaware of this resource, please direct him to this link. From 9am to 4pm (Mountain time), Roger, John, Ralph, George, and Alex – all former pastors themselves – are available to lend an understanding ear, perhaps offer a timely resource or referral and pray with someone who cares. I should point out that the hotline is part of the vision of H.B. London, Dr. Dobson’s first cousin. H.B. is a fourth-generation minister who pastored various churches for 31 years before coming to Focus. By the way, for those keeping score, H.B. just celebrated his Golden Anniversary! Married for fifty years, H.B. has certainly raised the bar for my wife Jean and I. Fifty years! Way to go, H.B.!