by Cletus Hull
I met Cletus Hull through Pure Joy Journal, a digital magazine for which we both write. Cletus has been in pastoral ministry for the last thirty-five years with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in western Pennsylvania. He served as a campus minister at the California University of PA (now PennWest California) from 1989-1996. Enjoy the wisdom of Cletus’ blogs.
For thirty-three years, I have served as a chaplain at two Pennsylvania state psychiatric hospitals. I recall the first moment that I arrived on the hospital campus, just one day after my ordination in the Christian ministry, and since that time, it has been a joy to serve in this specialized vocation. The unique challenges and benefits of this work have created many rewarding moments. I would like to share one personal story that represents the love Christ and can reveal deep spiritual meaning for healing in our lives. It is the power of forgiveness!
I discovered that forgiveness transcends the walls of religion and mental health issues. In other words, people intuitively know if you care about them or not.
Early in my work, I walked upstairs into the acute ward wearing my clerical collar. As I entered, a staff person requested that I speak with a certain patient. I walked over to his location and sat beside him. He noticed my collar and hesitantly asked, “You’re not going to try to convert me, are you?” I said that I had just stopped to see how he was doing. We conversed for a few minutes and then he said something I will never forget.
“I’m a Muslim,” he said. “but I have read all the holy books. The Koran, the Bible, Buddhist teachings—but there is something in ‘the teachings of Jesus’ I really liked a lot.” I asked him what teachings he meant.
He replied, “All those teachings on forgiveness! Wouldn’t this be a better world if people actually forgave each other?”
I thought, “this person struggling with mental health issues and from a different religion comprehends more about Christianity than some Christians I know!”
I believe forgiveness is a mercy that can be experienced no matter how sick we are or what we believe. Forgiveness remains a remarkable power that changes the core of our spiritual nucleus, delivering peace. Forgiveness is an amazing power for healing!
For the full story click on this link to read more My Church is a Mental Hospital (fuller.edu)
Cletus Hull’s website www.cletushull.com