International School of Chaplaincy
Tenwek Hospital stands apart from other hospitals with its emphasis on ministering to people’s spiritual needs by addressing their physical problems with compassionate and excellent medical care. This focus makes the hospital’s chaplaincy program a central component of its medical and spiritual mission and is reflected in a serious goal the hospital sets each year: leading 5,000 individuals to faith in Jesus Christ.
Tenwek’s chaplains work in concert with the medical staff to ensure that every patient treated there has the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Chaplains use the Scriptures to encourage patients who are emotionally impacted by their illness or who are facing disability or death. They also reach out to comfort and help the families and friends of patients.
When patients are discharged, they receive a Bible (provided by Samaritan’s Purse) and a letter from a hospital chaplain that they are encouraged to bring to a nearby pastor so they can join a church community and grow in their faith.
Chaplains also visit hospice patients in the community and, for the last several years, have been translating tracts into local dialects. A children’s church sponsored by the chaplaincy program serves some 200 local children.
L. Nelson Bell Chaplaincy School
The Tenwek Hospital School of Chaplaincy was first established in 1991 as the L. Nelson Bell Chaplaincy Training School. It was named to honor Dr. Bell, the respected medical missionary to China who was the father of Ruth Graham Bell and father-in-law to renowned evangelist, Billy Graham.
Dr. Ernie Steury, who was the first doctor to serve at the hospital, realized that the institution needed a full time chaplain to serve alongside the dedicated medical team. However, there was no college or university offering training in chaplaincy and this gave birth to the idea of opening one at Tenwek Hospital.
Over 25 years later, the school has trained more than 200 students from various African nations including Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In an effort to match to international standards, the school received accreditation from the Ministry of Education in 2011. The School has completely redesigned and upgraded the curriculum, and is currently pursuing further accreditation for post-graduate diploma courses.
Students enrolled in the School of Chaplaincy are trained to work in concert with medical staff to ensure that every patient has the opportunity to hear the Gospel. There is a particular focus on the use of Bible scriptures to encourage patients who are emotionally impacted by their illness or injury. Students also are trained to comfort and help the families and friends of patients.
The new curriculum also will prepare chaplains for service in military, police, prison, and school settings.