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Caring for others

Chaplain Barry Cox. Photo courtesy of John Cox
WHO CARES for those who care for others?

This is a question answered, at least in part, by the chaplains who express the idea of church to those who work in circumstances that would test anyone’s faith.

Police, hospital staff and paramedics find themselves caring for people in ways that stretch and stress them beyond
what most professionals will ever experience.

Barry Cox is a Uniting Church chaplain working with those emergency workers in and around Townsville.

He marvelled at their commitment during and after cyclone Yasi.

“These people often leave their own loved ones and families at home to go out and care for others in the midst of cyclonic wind and rain, with things passing by at 200 kilometres per hour,” he said.

Mr Cox works with those who are well paid to fulfil their calling.

He also stands beside those who volunteer their time, energy and skills to help others.

“It’s more than just a job for them,” he said.

“They see it as being part of a community and to love that community is to work in that community, heart and soul, giving
everything to it.

“They want to give back to the community something of what they have received.”

He might well have been echoing Paul’s “living sacrifice” that is the best expression of belonging together.

For Chaplain Cox the best of community is a fair reflection of what church is called to be.

“During the cyclone there were staff members in the Townsville General Hospital doing 24-hour shifts, with others camping on mattresses to get through it, and I can tell you there were a lot of tired, very dedicated staff.”

But who cares for the chaplains?

“We have our own back-up,” Mr Cox insisted.

“Our own church leaders look after us.

“Bruce Cornish, our presbytery chair, would be one.

He keeps an eye on us and we have a number of other people we can talk to, to relieve our stresses and strains
and get things off our chests.

“Speaking as a police chaplain, people imagine they have to be rock solid in the midst of everything that’s going on.

“A chaplain’s job comes after the crisis, to walk around and touch base with people and I find they’ll share things they normally wouldn’t.”

Mr Cox said it is in sharing that strain and stress are released.

It may take a week, a month or a year, but at some stage people need someone to whom they can unburden.

Photo : Chaplain Barry Cox. Photo courtesy of John Cox