Jesus, Strong and Kind

Sophie Christmas Cubes copy
Rochelle Wainwright

Rochelle Wainwright

Chaplain at Allowah Presbyterian Children's Hospital

There are many meaningful moments for me as the Chaplain at Allowah, coming alongside the children and staff in the name of Jesus. I have learned so much as a Chaplain to the children, and wanted to share what I have learned from my Allowah friend Sophie. Some of you will already be familiar with Sophie’s story if you receive the Allowah updates. Sophie reminds me that chaplaincy is about pastoral presence.

Chaplaincy is about being present with people as the “God-person.” I am reminded of this when I hear Sophie at my office door because she wants me to join her for a walk. During this walk with Sophie, I will get a sense of how she is going that day, whether she is happy, tired, or frustrated about something. I will then get a sense of how much time I may need to spend with Sophie that day as her Chaplain.

Chaplaincy is about being present with people as the “God-person.”

On some days, Sophie will hold both of my hands to tell me that I need to take my time with her that day. She holds both of my hands so that no-one else can take her hand, and so that I won’t go. Sometimes our walk together will take us outside into the Allowah playground, where I will be able to say “Thank you God for this lovely day, with the blue sky, green trees, and happy birds.” Sophie and I will chat about the day, and our chat will often lead to singing, “God our Father made the trees to grow and grow and grow…” 

As Sophie’s Chaplain, I am always thinking about how Sophie engages the world, and how I can give Sophie the opportunity to engage with Jesus. I try hard to listen to what Sophie is telling me with her words, sign language, and body language. I want to know Sophie’s interests, likes and dislikes, so that I can bring Jesus to Sophie in creative ways. I am not naturally creative, so I am thankful for the creativity of our Allowah Support Staff, for visiting church groups, and the Quizworx team with their creativity. I’ve learned that Sophie likes to play the drums during our Allowah Kids Church songs, and pray that as Sophie drums along, that the Holy Spirit fills her heart.

I am also thankful for the kindness of the young people at Allowah, that they enjoy songs and music in my attempts to bring Jesus to them in a way that engages their senses, as this is more in my skill-set. I often ponder the mutuality of this pastoral-care relationship that I have with the young people at Allowah, that we are learning from each other, giving and receiving. As Sophie greets me each day with a hug and a song, I realise how much Sophie has learned about me, her singing Chaplain. You will often see Sophie and her Chaplain “Chelle” walking around Allowah singing together “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Strong and Kind”, which we are both learning together in Auslan as well. I am so thankful to the precious people, churches, and groups who have partnered with me as a Chaplain, and for those who also support Allowah. Allowah is the place where young people, their families and staff can know the Jesus that is strong and kind.  

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