How should sports chaplains deal with disaster?
“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” Ps 34:1
As the former Chaplain of Leicester City I awoke to the horrifying news of the helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium. On the Sunday morning at short notice I did a brief interview for my friends at the local BBC Radio station, the following day my phone was inundated with requests from all over to speak more – I declined.
Meanwhile the existing chaplain of the club was fulfilling his duties under the radar of press attention.
There will now of course be a flurry of attention for the club, the worlds press will descend. Inside the club are a lot of people in shock hurting – they have lost a friend in Vichai. There should be no conflict for the sports chaplain he is not there to elevate his worth with press interviews, but there to care for the people in their pain. To provide some comfort from staff & players alike.
A chaplain of course is positioned to do so because over the years he has been able to build relationships of trust in an industry where there is little. And so when a time of need occurs he/she will be there to demonstrate God’s care. I believe the effectiveness of the sports chaplain is predicated on the investment of time over the days and years prior to the event.
For the larger clubs of course there should be and is more help. The sports chaplain is part of a pastoral team, part of the spoke in the wheel. Emergency services will no doubt draft in specially trained counsellors to support those in shock. It’s recommended that all sports chaplains should undertake critical incident training to be equipped with the specific challenges that trauma provide, but he/she does not have all the answers nor should try to.
In a few weeks or so time the media flurry will have died down, but the pain will still be present. Let us pray for the chaplain of Leicester City in the days and months ahead that he will be strengthened to provide the pastoral and spiritual care needed.