When you go to the hospital you know there is going to be around-the-clock medical care for you. There is also someone on staff and on-call 24/7 armed with the good book, a comforting prayer and a listening ear.
Here's more on the Avera McKennan Chaplaincy Service and their Ministry of Presence.
Ruth Engesmoe from Hendricks, MN is recovering from knee replacement surgery. While she's here at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, she has asked for the spiritual guidance of Ordained Pastor LaRue Jundt (although he goes by just LaRue).
LaRue has been serving at Avera McKennan for 16 years and is one of 10 people of all different denominations in the Chaplaincy Services at Avera McKennan. Each pastor or priest knows a majority of the time the people who end up at the hospital aren't here by choice so their role turns to crisis ministry.
LaRue says, "So what we find during those times is people really realize there has to be more. When they're told their child was killed in a motor vehicle collision or from a SIDS death or whatever it may be. Children for me is still the hardest after all these years, the death of a child. I see our role as chaplains to come along side."
LaRue says the most important ministry they can do is the ministry of presence that includes being there for the patients as well as the staff.
LaRue says, "When I relate back to the times of crisis in my own life Nancy, I realize I wasn't thinking clearly at that time. I needed someone to take charge. Even if that's making a phone call, a hand on a shoulder, just being there. Being present. Sometimes we don't have the words because we don't always understand why things happen the way they do. Only god does. So many times we get a note or a card that said thank you for being there. And I think back and all I did was walk with them. "
Even if he doesn't always have the words, he has faith and that can be the comfort people need in a time of great pain.
LaRue says the chaplain services are never forced on anyone.... they always ask first and never try to replace the patient or families regular minister. They also minister at the Avera Behavior Health Center and the Dougherty Hospice House.