Licensed as a Ministry Chaplain

Licensed as a Ministry Chaplain with CLA

Hey, y’all. My name is Gary George, and I am studying at Christian Leaders Institute to be licensed as a ministry chaplain (Learn more about online Bible courses, Click Here). My wonderful wife and I have been married 35 years. We have four grown children and a grandson coming in September. His name is Griffin, and I just know he loves his Papa already.

My Spiritual Journey

I came to know the Lord at the age of 8. Then, I spent my years in the church and the Christian school, coming to know exactly what living for the Lord meant. I never doubted that I was saved through grace and not by works. However, I sure felt like works kept me in God’s good graces.

It wasn’t until I fell out of the good graces of the church that I came to understand God’s unconditional love. I’ll never forget how my therapist looked at me and asked, “Gary, how would it feel if God said, Gary, this time I can’t forgive you; your sin is just too great?” It hit me like a ton of bricks because everything I knew about God screamed at me that, of course, God wouldn’t say that. Of course, He can forgive me. Why not let Him? Just as in Ezekiel, God took the heart of stone from me and gave me a heart of flesh. Compassion, I thought I knew what that meant until I really got a hold of God’s forgiveness.

A Desire to Serve Led to Prison Ministry

I was a Christian school teacher and principal. I was a licensed therapist, a caseworker for mental health clients, and a life coach. Then, I served in nearly every capacity of ministry a church offers. What started as a desire to serve, quickly turned into obligation amidst ever-changing responsibilities.

In 2015, I started a prison ministry after meeting Andy during my weekend stay in the county jail. He had been convicted and was heading to a 26-year prison sentence. We wrote back and forth, as I tried to keep his spirits up. I sent coffee and snacks, and letters of encouragement, and even recently, had video visits. Andy recommended others to me, and soon I was writing several men, offering them encouragement and comfort through God’s Spirit in letters and phone calls. The truth be told, I think they end up ministering to me more than I do for them. I love those men.

It boggles my mind that people see inmates as “criminals just waiting to be released to go on a crime spree.” I wish they knew Andy and the other men. They don’t hide their weaknesses and pretend to be sinless. Their worst day is available for anyone to view. It makes them honest. In many ways, I wish we all had to own up to our personal trespasses. It would give us all “hearts of flesh.” We would refrain from judgment and let God work.

Getting Licensed as a Ministry Chaplain

Therefore, I decided to grow the ministry, or at least get out of the way and let God do it. It was time to get ordained and licensed as a ministry chaplain. Mind you, these two things would have been the furthest from my mind years ago. I dread the thought of being the center of a ceremony. But, I know I can enlist more support with ordination and licensing. People will likely see my heart if they feel I have put the work in.

Chaplaincy Calling

I found the Christian Leaders Institute through researching ordination programs and avoiding the “pay to pray” schemes. Once I started classes here, I realized that chaplaincy was just a few more classes away, so maybe I will check into that. As I read what chaplains do, my wife and I agreed that this matched my calling better than any occupation could have. Imagine if your entire life was spent comforting and encouraging others, how glorious would that be?

So, here I am, asking God and CLI to grant me the privilege of being a chaplain to those I come into contact with and actively seek out. As I write this, I get chills. I feel so unworthy. But God uses the unworthy and called. It isn’t “why me?” It’s “please, let it be me.”

I posted this on Twitter today, (borrowed from someone smarter): “What would you do today if you knew tomorrow was your last day? Well, Jesus knew. And on the night before his last day, he washed the feet of Judas.” That convicts me to my very bones. I may never get to that point. But I would sure like to try.