November 3rd in Richmond, Virginia there was a special occasion when Charles Chandler, Founder and Leader of an organization that has helped a multitude of ministers is retiring. Ministry to Ministers is over 22 years old. Charles went through a painful church experience at age 58 and was without work. He had been successful all of his ministry. Written books, served as a Denominational leader, an author of a multitude of articles. But this organization he founded 22 years ago has helped many, many ministers going through a vocational crisis. He has helped save countless lives.
His organization would bring not more than 12 people in for a five-day retreat. All of these had suffered pain in churches. Some had been dismissed. Many had no job. The pain that them and their families endured was most difficult. In a retreat setting of five days counselors, vocational consultants, sometimes a psychiatrist helped there that come find hope and help for their difficult situations.
There was no charge for those retreats. Most had little money or resources to draw on. Some could not even afford transportation and this would be provided. Living on a shoestring--this splendid organization have sponsored over 132 Wellness Retreats. Over 1200 men and women have participated in these retreats. This does not count the phone calls, referrals and personal conferences that have reached out to help many ministers in need.
Charles Chandler was honored Thursday night for his great work to help so many.
I could not be there for the meeting--but this is the letter that I sent to be read that evening. Those of us who have known and worked with Charles Chandler have received many blessings because of his friendship and work.
I am sorry that I cannot be with you and the group tonight for your well-deserved—er, what shall we call it: roasting, kicking you out, putting you out to pasture, surely not your funeral. All kidding aside—tonight’s tribute is the least we could do for one who has given and given to the hurting and those in need.
I remember back to 1993 or 1994 when you know knocked on my study door in Birmingham and said, “I want to talk to you.” He knew I had been through a difficult church experience just two years before. 55 years old and no church and wondering what I would do for the rest of my ministerial life. And in my office sat Charles a friend whose ties went all the way back to Birmingham and college days. He was 58 years old and had also been through a difficult church experience in Virginia.
Anybody that knows Charles knows that when he says: “I want to talk” he means it. And so he told me about his dream of maybe beginning some kind of ministry to ministers who, like me and like himself had faced a difficult time in ministry. And so that afternoon he began to share with me his dreams about MTM. He had no idea what the future of this dream would take but he was willing to try.
And try he did. Now, looking back over 1,287 women and men in the ministry had found help and hope in these 22 years. This does not include the countless phone calls and personal conferences he had with so many. Once a woman went to talk to the great preacher, Harry Emerson Fosdick. As she left she told his Secretary, “He helped put the stars back in my sky.” Men and women of a multitude of denominations have found the stars once more because of the hard work of Charles Chandler. Out there in the trenches many serving church, but not all—some maybe do not even remember Charles’ name—never mind—they remember and follow the Lord Jesus still with hope because of Charles Chandler and MTM.
William Stafford, a great American poet said, “I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” At age 58 dear Charles began to weave a parachute out of the broken things of his life. Not only vocation—but personal loss in a son—and the disappointments and headaches that we all face. Charles was unselfish with his parachute. He shared his pain and wisdom with so many through these years. And out there across out country so many have woven their own parachutes thanks to Charles and MTM.
So Charles, even though I am not present with you in person I am with you and Betty in spirit. As I think back to that day in my study in Birmingham over 20 years ago I am glad you shared your dream and I am glad for the tiny part I have played in this incredible ministry of stars and parachutes.
You have blessed us all. And we thank you for all you have done.
In gratitude, Roger Lovette