The Four Winns boat-building factory in Cadillac, Mich., was at full throttle as Rev. Ron Klimp moved quickly along the assembly line, stopping to ask employees how they were doing.
“This is an important way to minister to people in a more natural setting,” says Klimp, executive director of the CRC-affiliated Workplace Chaplains Inc. “Many of these are people who don’t often darken the door of a church, but they have spiritual needs.”
Started in 1999 with just a few clients, the organization today provides ministry to hundreds of white- and blue-collar employees in more than 20 companies in Michigan and Wisconsin.
This factory-floor evangelism, says Klimp, involves listening and being there when an employee has a worry or concern. Klimp served a CRC congregation in Cadillac when he launched the ministry. He now works full-time for Workplace Chaplains.
At Four Winns, Klimp stopped to talk with Jamie Nyeste, 48, who was buffing the fiberglass hull of a power boat. After a few moments of conversation, he patted Nyeste on the shoulder and kept going down the line.
“I think he’s great,” Nyeste said afterward. “I’m not a real religious person, but I like talking to him. He stopped by my house a few times when I was going through some bad times. All of his input is good.”
Rev. Peter DeHaan, a Workplace Chaplain for companies in the Holland, Mich., area, says he and other chaplains offer counseling, Bible verses, prayer, and other types of comfort to workers dealing with injury, illness, or financial or other personal crises. Where necessary, they link workers with appropriate social and legal services.
Klimp says he has been with employees in the hospital, in nursing homes, and in funeral homes. While his focus is on offering the love of Christ, he says, there is also a bottom-line aspect to chaplaincy. “Workers who have the proper support are more likely to make good decisions on the job and to stay healthy and to do what they are paid to do.”
While a company wellness program can help enhance an employee’s health, having a chaplain available “helps to care for your spiritual, emotional, and relational strength,” writes Mark Fink, a contributor to a newsletter for Request Foods in Holland.
Pastor Sochet Na, one of the chaplains at Request Foods, says he sees his job—whether with those who speak Cambodian or English—as being a “bridge to build networking to show Christ’s love to others.”