Monday, December 15, 2008

Pastor Buddy Vinson is there in time of need

It is inevitable that at some point in everyone's life and at any age a close friend or family member will be stricken by illness or the death of a loved one. "Having someone on hand to comfort you is what helps you get over the event" says Rev. Buddy Vinson, Pastor of Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, located in Racine, Wisconsin.

Vinson says that he was called to preach in the 80's, and early in ministry he wanted to gain as much experience as he could in how to help others cope with grief.

For the past 14 years he has served with a team of volunteers as a chaplain at Wheaton Franciscan Hospital. "My job is simple, 'We offer comfort in a time of need."

Vinson says one can expect a wide range of emotions and behavior. In all places and cultures, the grieving person benefits from the support of others. He said that families are under a tremendous amount of stress, and sometimes only need to be asked simply if they would like a cup of coffee or a soda. "We never go in and ask to pray for them, in most cases, the family will ask us to pray and that is a more effective prayer," he explains.

Vinson remembers on one occasion being asked to pray for a woman who was in the emergency room suffering from an aneurysm. She recovered, and later that year he was surprised when he received a holiday card and a picture of the woman's family. "She had been given a 50-50 chance to live and she did not know I had prayed for her until later."
He volunteers and is on call about five times a month, usually the last three days of the month. Sometime his volunteer chaplain position calls for him to stay over night.

He said sometimes people's beliefs can create challenges. "Most families are receptive to you, no matter what your theological background is. What is important is what you have to offer them during a time of bereavement," he explained.
When Racine witnessed a volume of drive-by shootings, Vinson was on call. Vinson says homicide is the most distressful time for him, and people have many unique needs. "It is difficult because first of all you have to calm the family down and help them to understand that their loved one is gone and there is little that they can do to change the circumstances. It's hard for me because I can feel all of the pain that the family is suffering."

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