Touching Heaven

June 7th, 2013

...That same day, all the first-year students were invited to a series of interviews as we tried to find a field-ministry placement. We were given a list of churches and agencies that were willing to have interns. We had to select our top five choices and then were assigned interview times with each of them. I placed a check mark beside my top five choices but really wanted one only position—as a student chaplain to dying children at a children’s hospital. I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if I had been chosen. I cannot tell you how blessed I felt to be selected as one of three chaplains to work at the hospital.

The night before I started, I prayed to God, admitting my sin of doubt and asking him with all my heart to give me more faith and to shatter my doubts. I was hoping for an experience much like Moses—I imagined a burning bush outside my window would shatter my fear. Or maybe a vision like Ezekiel was given would do the job. Or perhaps a moment when my heart would be strangely warmed, like John Wesley. Nothing happened that night, so I went to work, excited but disappointed my prayer had not been answered.

Little did I know that God would answer my prayer and my doubts would disappear as I spent time with the children at the hospital. They were not theologians or learned scholars or saints. They were simply children who were facing their own deaths and were open and honest about what they were experiencing.

I was a young woman who had just turned twenty-two and knew nothing about being a chaplain, and we didn’t have a long training period before we were allowed to visit the kids. Luckily Toni, the sole chaplain for the hospital for years, was my supervisor. Her style was unique and trusting. She simply gave us a badge that read “Student Chaplain” and told us to go visit some kids and meet with her when we were done. We would meet in what we called the outer office, which was a small area where there were vending machines and two booths to sit in.

I worked at the hospital all three years while I was in seminary, and during those three years my prayer was answered. When I finally finished working at the hospital, I no longer doubted whether heaven was real, and I once again believed in God with the faith I’d had as a child.

My faith teachers were the children. Though I was a chaplain, I rarely had the words to make their deaths easier, nor did I feel my expressions of comfort were all that compelling to them. All I really did was visit them, listen to them, and learn from them about God, heaven, and what dying is like. And these young people, from ages four to fifteen, taught me the realities of God.

It has been many years since I worked at that hospital, but I recall the faces and the conversations I had with these children like it was yesterday. They were some of the most spiritual and profound experiences of my life. Read more on the download below...

excerpt from: Touching Heaven: Real Stories of Children, Life, and Eternity by Leanne Hadley. Copyright©2013by Revell Books. Used with permission.

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