JOPLIN, Mo. —
I know we always want to emphasize the reason for the season when it comes to Christmas. After all, it is the birth of Christ we are celebrating.
However, we are human. And as humans, every year about this time, stress, anxiety and tension run rampant.
As senior chaplains with the International Fellowship of Chaplains, Scott and Nancy Hutson are well aware of that. That is why this Joplin couple's efforts to help needy souls does not end on Christmas.
"The IFOC is based on what the needs of the person are first," said Scott Hutson. "While counseling is coming in and visiting with somebody, in chaplaincy, it is coming alongside that person and trying to meet their needs until they get to the point where spirituality is something they want to consider. Even if you are spiritual, you still have to have your needs met."
It's true that churches concentrate on meeting needs, Hutson said, but that is often done within the walls of the church. Chaplains go beyond church walls.
The Hutsons, former owners of Cycle Connection in Joplin, sold their business early this year to devote more time to Shining Star Ministries, which Nancy Hutson began 13 years ago.
Along with Nancy's motivational speaking for Christian-based events and businesses, the couple decided to include their chaplaincy work under the Shining Star Ministries umbrella.
Part of that has to do with not only getting more chaplain training on their own but also getting others involved in the worldwide work of the fellowship.
So it was that after getting licensed and ordained as senior chaplains last May, the couple decided to set up a basic training class in Joplin similar to what they went through in Albuquerque, N.M., shortly after the sale of their business.
The 45-hour class has been scheduled for Jan. 20-24 at Ignite Church, 710 S. Maiden Lane. The fee is $350.
Those who successfully complete the class will be licensed and ordained IFOC chaplains.
The class will include, but is not limited to, training on critical incident stress, critical incident stress management, critical incident stress debriefing, grief and loss, trauma, domestic violence, chaplaincy and the law, disaster relief, depression and human trafficking.
Nancy Hutson said it is the hope of her and her husband to develop a Joplin and Four-State Area Corps of IFOC chaplains to be prepared to serve as areas of need develop.
Registration or more information about the class may be obtained by visiting the web site, www.ifoc.org, or calling 417-825-0080.
The change to devoting more time to the ministry came for the Hutsons after the 2011 Joplin tornado.
"We changed the way we prayed after the tornado," said Nancy, who was introduced to the fellowship by Phillip McClendon, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. "We asked God what we could do for him, and as soon as we did, he just started opening doors."
The Hutsons have owned a number of businesses and still retain ownership of Route 66 Theater in Webb City.
In addition to their chaplaincy, they also hold conferences and consultations dealing with Christian business principles, particularly with young people getting started in business.
Just as the Hutsons serve as chaplains to business owners, they are prepared to help anyone in need, no matter their circumstances, said Nancy.
"It is all about being able to have the resources to help," she said. "If somebody's house is on fire and you walk up to them and say Jesus loves you, that is not what they want to hear. You need to ask, 'Do you have some place to stay?' or 'Do you have clothing?' It's about making those decisions. That's what an IFOC chaplain does. It is about being in the workplace or wherever disaster strikes, just being there for them."
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.