Chaplain’s Orders – Episode 152

Chaplain’s Orders

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Featuring: Larry Foster

Published: February 23, 2019

Rev. Percy McCray sits down with Rev. Larry Foster, a chaplain at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago, Illinois, to talk about his philosophy of spiritual care to the patients he serves, his formula for self-care, and how his approach to ministry has been shaped by every person he’s encountered.

Show Notes:

If you ask Rev. Larry Foster if chaplaincy is tough, his answer may surprise you. Having served as a chaplain at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago, Illinois, there is one answer Foster gives when it comes to his calling to the patients he serves. “I have received so much more than what I ever thought I had to give to them. They’re fighting for their lives, and the right thing is to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

A veteran of the U.S. Army infantry, Foster has worked at CTCA for five years, and understands the value of balance and self-care in order to prevent burnout. He even takes a Zumba class with his wife. “Mondays and Wednesdays is Zumba. Tuesday is movie night, so we go out to a movie. That really helps me to process what I’ve been exposed to in order to put things in perspective, so when I’m in this facility, I’m 100% here.”

Foster believes in not only ministering to the patients he serves, but also motivating them. “Whenever I do an initial meeting with my patients, I leave them with chaplain’s orders. I say, ‘You’ve received doctor’s orders, right? And they say, ‘Yeah.’ I say, ‘Well, I’m about to leave you with chaplain’s orders. Get back with me with a praise report. Chaplain’s orders.’” Foster isn’t surprised by the effect it has on patients…and the occasional surgeon. “Very recently, I interacted with a patient, and they shared with me their very favorable prognosis with regards to answered prayer. It literally startled the surgeon,” he says. “And the patient looked at me and said, ‘I was merely following my orders in giving you that report.’ And I said, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You have been obedient.’”

Quotes:

  • “Whenever I see my patients, I am reminded of how I would have wanted my loved ones to have been treated. And when I approach them, I approach them as if they’re my own, because for me, they’re my heroes. They take all of the excuses away. They remind me of what’s really most important.”
  • “I say a word of prayer, asking the Lord to give me the words to say, the deeds to do that would truly honor Him during the interactions that He has entrusted me with. And I ask Him to guide me through that process in hopes that I can in some way be a blessing to that person, whomever He sends to me.”
  • “[Prayer] is kind of my way of getting into the right mind-set, spiritual mind-set, as well, with regards to engaging with my patients because I always remind them — and I mean it from the bottom of my heart — that they are never, ever a burden. They’re always a blessing.”

Resources:

Click here to download this week’s resource: “Emotional Needs of Cancer Patients

Learn More:
CTCA | Chicago, IL