“An extra set of both physical and spiritual eyes.” This is how Christine Farah, one of the leaders of Nazareth Hospital’s Chaplaincy Volunteer program describes her chaplains. Detailing the compassionate service each member of the team brings, Christine says volunteers note how patients are responding to visits, watch for any physical discomforts they may have, and sense any needs for prayer and ministry. According to Christine the value that the volunteers bring to the program is profound. She says, “Volunteers are certainly a great blessing to us and to our community and I know that personally I have benefitted so much from their presence and encouragement.”
Being an opportunity through SERVE Nazareth, Nazareth Hospital’s International Chaplaincy Volunteer Program at Nazareth Hospital accepts volunteers with various levels of training and experience. Those with formal pastoral or chaplaincy training might have opportunities to serve Hospital chaplaincy staff and volunteers by helping to lead retreats, provide training, or lead devotions. Volunteers can take part in weekly staff worship and prayer services with Hospital Departments, Bible studies, and other seasonal events.
Teresa Regier of British Columbia first heard about the invitation to come serve on the Chaplaincy team at Nazareth Hospital through Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship. A recently retired Certified Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Midwife, she explains her interest in the opportunity: “Because of my career in health care, the idea of volunteering in and around a hospital felt comfortable, even though chaplaincy was not my area of expertise.” Teresa’s husband Dale was excited about the opportunity to join his wife in Nazareth, serving at Nazareth Village. The couple had considered making volunteer work part of their post-retirement phase of life. They wanted to contribute and help others as well as continue to learn about other cultures and meet new people.
The Regiers arrived in Nazareth in April of 2023. During their three months of service, they enjoyed daily opportunities to get to know people at the Hospital, Nazareth Village, and in the wider community. Teresa served by both helping in the nursery and serving on the volunteer chaplaincy team. Remarking on her experience she said, “I was there to serve, which I did happily. My goal for myself was—whatever I was asked to do, I would do to the best of my ability.” She also stated that, “Most patients were very welcoming and appreciative of the chaplaincy visits, even if they were of a different religion. People in Nazareth seem more accepting of each other’s different beliefs.”
Expressing her appreciation of Teresa, Christine Farah remarked, “[Teresa’s] caring nature and wisdom made her a great fit for chaplaincy. Her background as a nurse gave her an insight into healthcare chaplaincy which was invaluable. Her career as a nurse and her familiarity with hospitals meant that she also had that unshockable quality, retaining her ability to interact with people even in difficult physical situations without being overwhelmed. Her love for those she interacted with was evident, and her compassion helped her connect. The support she gave to our team was amazing. She approached each visit with the person at the forefront of her mind, eager to meet them, learn about them and to care for them.”
In addition to her chaplaincy functions, Theresa and her husband enjoyed getting acquainted with the many international volunteers serving at the hospital. “We came from many places and had different ideas, accents, etc.” she said, “but we had Jesus in common and had a kinship in volunteering. Smiles are welcome in any language. Even if communication is difficult, a smile goes a long way to make people feel welcome and accepted. Jesus continues to break down all cultural barriers.”
A part of Nazareth Project’s mission is to support SERVE Nazareth, chaplains like Theresa and the others who selflessly sacrifice their time and talents in the name of Jesus, providing care to those who live in the land where he walked. We invite you to consider donating to support this program and help build bridges between cultures in Israel/Palestine and between the global community of faith.
The Nazareth Project is the primary US partner of the Nazareth Trust, an organization dedicated to serving the population of the Middle East and the wider world through healthcare, education, proclamation, and service. Our work and mission are rooted in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, though we are committed to serving all peoples, regardless of faith, political affiliation, or tradition. The offerings of the Trust include the Nazareth Hospital and the Nazareth Academic School of Nursing, as well as Nazareth Village and the SERVE Nazareth program, both of which allow patients, students, volunteers, pilgrims, and tourists to deepen their relationship with God and one another. Contact us today for more information on these programs, or consider donating to support our work!