"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom: Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." 2 Timothy 4:1-2
Duties and Responsibilities
Chaplains’ have many serious and solemn duties and responsibilities. Chaplains are responsible for the Spiritual well-being of all in their unit. In the army, the chaplain is the pastor of the soldiers, non-commissioned officers and the officers, of all ranks. In the police, a chaplain cares for all the officers and constables. A prison chaplain cares not only for the prisoners, but also for the wardens. Hospital chaplains are responsible for the spiritual care for the patients and also of the medical staff. In addition, chaplains are frequently called upon to care for the families and relatives of those they are primarily responsible for.
Justice and Grace
Chaplains are of course responsible to the government officials under whom they serve. Chaplains have a dual responsibility to the church and to the state. The state is a minister of justice, answerable to Almighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Chaplains are also ministers of the church, which is a minister of grace under our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Back to the Bible
In all these duties, the chaplains’ authority is grounded in Scripture. Their responsibilities are clearly shown in Scripture. The Holy Bible is their most important equipment. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom: Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." 2 Timothy 3:16 - 4:2
Hospital Christian Fellowship
My first ministry after my conversion to Christ 40 years ago, was Scripture Union, ministering in schools. The first Mission I was called to was Hospital Christian Fellowship. The Founder of HCF, Francis Grim, who I had the privilege of being mentored under, often declared: "More people pass through the hospitals of the world than through its churches." The vision of Hospital Christian Fellowship was to reach, teach, educate and empower healthcare professionals, doctors and nurses, to reach and teach other medical personnel, to evangelise and disciple the patients under their care.
It was during my Military service in the South African Infantry that I was led to make a public stand for Christ at the first chaplains’ service I attended. Asking permission from the Chaplain to speak, I stood up, turned and faced the hundreds of men in my company. I declared: "I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart and I want to honour Him during my next two years here. If anyone else feels the same, please see me afterwards. Let us start a Bible study and a prayer fellowship." From that stand a daily Bible study and prayer fellowship was launched, out of which developed Frontline Fellowship.
Over the last 35 years Frontline Fellowship has ministered extensively with the military chaplains of the South African Defence Force and South West African Territorial Force. We also helped train the first 70 military chaplains of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) in Sudan and we have worked extensively with anti-communist guerrillas and freedom fighters such as RENAMO in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola.
Working with Chaplains Worldwide
During my Theological Training I worked in the Fire Brigade on midnight shifts. By God's grace, I also had opportunities to minister with soldiers throughout Europe and North America, as a guest speaker to GSG9, the SAS, The Rangers, U.S. Air Force and in prisons throughout Africa and amongst soldiers in the Congo, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda. The Chaplains’ Hand Book and Prayer Book have gone through numerous editions. We have been requested by government officials in Zambia and Sudan to provide Chaplains’ Hand Books and Prayer Books for their police, prisons and military chaplains.
Our Literature4Africa ministry in South Africa has also had extensive contact with the chaplains of Fire Brigade, Prisons and Police. With my wife’s involvement in the Cancer survivor community in Cape Town and my son, Christopher’s, kidney failure and kidney transplant, we were regular visitors to Red Cross Childrens Hospital. All of this has been used of the Lord to help expose me to the needs of patients and prisoners, police and pensioners, medical personnel and Fire Brigade personnel, soldiers, sailors and air men. Chaplains have a vital role in fulfilling the Great Commission, making disciples, teaching obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded.
Preach the Word
Charles Spurgeon declared: "The preaching of Christ is like the thunderbolt! The sound of which makes all of hell shake!"
The Urgency of the Task
Carl Henry observed: "The Gospel is only good news if it gets there on time." There is an urgency in the task of a chaplain. Dealing often with people who are facing life and death situations, it is vital that we preach the Gospel faithfully and effectively, as though it may be the last opportunity we will have to communicate the Gospel of Christ, or the last opportunity that our hearers may have to hear it.
The Bible is the Best Missionary of All
As William Cameron Townsend, Founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, observed: "The best missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue – it needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." Central to any Chaplain’s duties is the distribution of Bibles and New Testaments, ensuring that all those that we are responsible for, have the Word of God in their own language and in their hand, to faithfully proclaim and teach the Word.
Motives for Ministry
Missionary to Parliament, William Wilberforce, cautioned: "If there is no passionate love for Christ at the centre of everything, we will only jingle and jangle our way across the world, merely making a noise as we do."
Know God and Make Him Known
It is our priority to know God and to make Him known. The Apostles described their responsibilities as: "Prayer and the Word." We need to be Bible-based, Christ-centered and Spirit-led
The Chaplains’ Hand Book includes over 40 chapters, covering vital principles, Scriptures and guidelines for Evangelism, discipleship, intercession, worship, counselling, Bible study and Bible teaching, including orders of service for Baptisms, the Lords Supper, Funerals and Dedication Services. The Chaplains’ Hand Book includes the Westminster Confession of Faith, the 39 Articles of Religion, Standing Orders from our Commanding Officer, teachings on Suffering, Warfare, Motives for Missions, the Art of Preaching, Biblical Character, Imprecatory Prayers and much more.
Our Heart-Felt Prayer
It is our prayer that the Chaplains’ Hand Book will help chaplains to be more Bible-based, Christ-centered and Holy Spirit-led. The Great Commission must be our supreme ambition. Christ’s last command must be our first concern. It is our duty to reach and teach, motivating and mobilising the whole church to take the whole Gospel to the whole world.
A Resource to Equip and Empower Chaplains’
The Chaplains’ Hand Book is over 140 pages and is available from
Christian Liberty Books,
PO Box 358, Howard Place 7450,
Cape Town, South Africa,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa