Most of us understand the importance of having someone to lean on when the road gets a little bumpy. But the job description of a school chaplain holds a special place in the hearts of those in our regional communities.
For Chappy Tony, he’s served in this unique calling for many years. When he speaks of his years of service, you can see the delight on his face. He is a testimony of Acts 20:35 – that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.
Although his journey has taken him far and wide, in more recent years Tony has been located in Central and West Queensland. It’s here that he’s truly landed the title of “Community Chaplain.” For outback communities like Alpha and Jericho, the chaplain isn’t just there for the school students and teachers. They’re there for anyone who needs support.
“There are unique things in these regions that have an impact on communal wellbeing — the drought is one of them,” explains Tony.
“As chaplains, we frequently team up with organisations, churches and other schools to help raise money to support the community.”
In rural communities, the health of land and livestock is linked to the community’s wellbeing. On one occasion, Chappy Tony and some friends were delivering semi-trailer loads of hay for the people in town when they had an unexpected encounter.
“There was a man who came up to us with tears in his eyes. He said, ‘Why are you doing this for us?’ He was stunned that we’d be helping him and his neighbours in this way.
“Over the years, I’ve seen resilience from people who are determined to stay on their land, even in the hardships. It’s a blessing to align with the needs of the community – even if it is as simple as handing out hay,” says Chappy Tony.
“Some people misunderstand the role of a chaplain. It’s about being there. It’s about going along to a cattle camp, or joining in on things to look after the welfare of young people. It’s about being real and being part of the community God has called you to be in.”
And the truth is, there is a desperate need for more chaplains in our remote communities. The work is plentiful – but the labourers are few.
If you’ve always dreamed of living out your faith in the service of others, school chaplaincy is calling you today.
Visit suqld.org.au/morehands and find out more.