One Night in the Trauma Bay

No, not as a patient but as a chaplain. One night a month I am on-call where I stay at the hospital from 4:30 pm until 8:30 the next morning. In addition to carrying a pager which nurses call when there are patient or family requests for a chaplain (usually end of life issues), I have a beeper which alerts me with the ETA at the level one trauma bay and brief details of the patient/victim/.


A common detail is GSW (gunshot wound). Last Friday night was no exception with a GSW homicide. Talk about an eye opener. It is surreal watching the trauma team open the chest trying to save the victim’s life. And then the wife arrives, then friends and family members. You do a lot of silent praying because you never know what/who you will face and what you will say. You do a lot of listening to the weeping, the rage, the incomprehension, the denial. All your canned platitudes go out the window in the presence of unbearable grief.  Why am I there? To comfort families, to pray, and more. But mostly in the hope that God will be at work in ways that allow the gospel to be heard. It might only be a seed sown, in prayer or in conversation. It might never bear fruit that I will see. Yet somehow I believe my presence there makes a difference, in their lives and mine.


We might call this peaceful presence in the midst of chaos and grief – much like we as Christians are to be in the world. Whether in a hospital trauma bay, at our workplaces or in the neighborhoods where we live, it is to this – peaceful presence – that we are called in the hope of pointing others to the Savior who bore their griefs and carried their sorrows.

2 Responses to “One Night in the Trauma Bay”

  1. Thanks Steve for sharing about this ministry to the lives of people as a Hospital Chaplain!

  2. Been there, done that! Front line stuff. All pastors/ministry men and I do mean ALL should spend significant time in the ER . . . GSW, MVA, suicides, homicides, children, teens, geriatrcs . . . watching people die and watching people watch people die. Real ministry begins here. Thanks bro.!

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