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So, you're a Chaplain? What do you actually DO?

Dianna CashDianna Cash Posts: 11
edited November 2019 in Working Onboard - General
"So you're a chaplain?"  She asked.

"Yup.  I am.  It's really the best job on the ship."  Was my easy reply.

And then ther was the follow up question. "What do you and the other chaplains actually DO?"  

Ahhhh...I am so glad you asked!  

According to official documents and job descriptions, "Mercy Ships Chaplaincy aims to promote Spiritual, Emotional, Relational, and Financial HEALTH for all crew.  THE FOCUS of the Chaplaincy is to provide and facilitate pastoral care for all Mercy Ships personnel.  OUR GOAL is to help create an environment for each individual to live in a biblically healthy manner in order to fulfill their purpose in Mercy Ships for as long as the Lord has designed.  OUR BELIEF is that by being objective, safe and impartial we can influence, encourage, shepherd, teach, counsel and mediate in both proactive and responsive ways."

But what do we DO?  Here's a list that I know is incomplete...but maybe it'll give a pretty good glimpse into what I think is THE BEST job on the ship.

As chaplains, we...
  • Listen
  • Pray (with and for)
  • Counsel
  • Advise
  • Plan, coordinate and carry out weekly Worship Gatherings and Community Meetings
  • Coordinate the AFM Youth (6th-12th grade students)
  • Offer financial coaching, encouragement and counsel
  • Debrief (traumatic events, tough situations, intense seasons)
  • Mediate challenging situations and/or conversations
  • Lead Community Groups
  • Line up Community Group Leaders
  • Resource Community Group Leaders
  • Coordinate the Barnabas (prayer) Program
  • Maintain the prayer room
  • Respond to Chaplaincy Pager calls
  • Manage the Crew Emergency Fund
  • Walk with crew through crisis
  • Share life and coffee
  • Send encouraging notes
  • Welcome crew
  • Send birthday cards
  • Organize retreats throughout the field service and the yearly Spiritual Life Conference
  • Be a safe place for people to vent and process
  • Present Offering Opportunities
  • Lead departmental devotions
  • Create and share Bible reading plans
  • Offer resources (books, bible studies, etc.)
  • Pre-marital counseling
  • Encourage and embrace short and long term crew members
  • Do what we can to build and encourage healthy community
  • Distribute hugs and smiles (and chocolate when necessary)
  • Be the hands, feet and love of Jesus in very real and tangible ways – Jesus with skin on to the best of our ability!
What do I do?  I just try to love people and walk along side of them and support them as they become more and more of who God intends for them to be...and in the process, He's helping me become more and more of who He intends me to be.  It's pretty amazing.  

Yup.  Best job on the ship.  



  • Donovan PalmerDonovan Palmer Posts: 17 - Current Staff
    Nice post. It definitely shows that you feel you have the best job on the ship!
  • Hello,  as a chaplain do you have any opportunities to do outreach off the ship in the community, or do you primarily only minister to those who work on the ship?  Thank you very much!

  • Dianna CashDianna Cash Posts: 11
    Hey Justin!  Great question.  As a chaplain, my primary focus is on the crew of the Africa Mercy.  My family and I definitely feel that our calling is to the AFM Community more so than to the people of the country we are in.  However, there are plenty of opportunities for off (and on!) ship ministry and outreach to the people of Benin (or whichever country the ship is in)  -- it all just depends on a person's calling, passions, motivation and willingness to go out and do things!   
  • As Chaplain how many types of Bible Study, Chapel, or Worship Services do you lead on the ship? Do you have more than one on Sundays when people are working different shifts or does everyone have to attend just one meeting as a whole group. Between the Chaplains how do you divide up the preaching responsibilities for these worship services or do you have other Crew members and visitors who share and speak within these services.

  • I see that there is an opening for Hospital Chaplain in 2019 and Chaplain but the Hospital Chaplain should be a Mercy Ships Alumni. What is the difference between the ministry of the Chaplain and Hospital Chaplain? What is the reason for the Alumni requirement for the position?

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