Texas Baptists endorse first oil-patch chaplains

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DALLAS—The Baptist General Convention of Texas endorsed Hollas and Nelda Hoffman of Gonzales as Texas Baptists’ first oil-patch chaplains to meet the pastoral care needs of oilfield workers.

The BGCT Chaplaincy Endorsement Council has endorsed 794 chaplains and pastoral counselors serving in nine ministry areas, including the military, hospitals and public safety.

oilfield hoffmans425Oil Patch Chaplains Hollas and Nelda Hoffman (center and right) meet with an oil field worker. (PHOTO / Kalie Lowrie)“Endorsement lends integrity, character, responsibility and accountability to a pastoral ministry in a specialized setting,” said Bobby Smith, director of Texas Baptists’ chaplaincy relations. “Chaplaincy is a respected program of Texas Baptists. Endorsement provides a sense of worth and accountability and provides connection with a faith group.”

When Hollas Hoffman, a pastor more than 30 years, retired from local-church ministry last August, he and his wife, Nelda, felt God calling them to serve as chaplains in the oilfields of South Texas. 

While they did not know much about the oilfields around them when they started, “We knew about people, and we knew about the need,” he said.

The Hoffmans never know what a day of oil-patch chaplaincy may hold. Some days they deliver sandwiches to workers on the job. On another day, they may kneel beside a hospital bed ministering to a burn victim.

“Our desire is to show care, concern, compassion and hope to those we meet each day,” Nelda Hoffman said. “People on the oilfields need to know there is someone who cares about them. It is a blessing to be the ones who get to show that care.”

oilfield prayer425Oil Patch Chaplains pray with the management of a trucking company. (PHOTO / Kalie Lowrie)Working as volunteer chaplains and as missionaries through the BGCT’s Hope 1:8 program, the Hoffmans receive support from gifts and offerings from area churches and Texas Baptists around the state. In 2015, oil patch chaplains will receive funds from the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions to provide Bibles, tracts and need-based projects.

“There is a great need for Jesus in the oil field,” Hoffman said. “This ministry is growing faster than we can keep up with, but we are so excited about those God is raising up to do the work to further his kingdom.”

As their ministry has expanded, so has the number of volunteers serving in the area. The Hoffmans now work with three more couples—Kenny and Tawalia Humphreys, Cory and Sarah Davis, and Gary and Kim Haynes. They continually look for more volunteers who would like to minister in the oil patch of Texas.

The Eagle Ford Shale, where Gonzales is located, is growing significantly. Fred Ater, Texas Baptist church strategist, has worked with the oilfield ministry more than three years. During this time, he has seen the need for chaplains arise and has partnered with the Hoffmans, as well as many others interested in ministering to this growing mission field.

An important aspect of the oil-patch chaplain ministry involves building relationships with area oilfield companies. Many times, the Hoffmans visit new sites and ask to speak with the safety manager on duty. They share explain who they are and express their desire to help the workers at that company.

One day, the Hoffmans drove to an oil-company drilling outpost. Finding the gate open, they entered the grounds and drove to the main office. When they knocked on the door, the office manager asked how they were able to drive in when the gate always is closed.

“The gate was open for us,” Hoffman told the manager. “Since we are already here, would you mind if I spoke with your safety manager?”

Before long, the safety manager escorted Hoffman to a room full of oilfield workers, where he had the opportunity to tell them he was there to get to know them and help in any way that he could.

“The Lord opened the door for us that day to allow us the opportunity to meet and minister to more oilfield workers,” Nelda Hoffman said. “This is just one example of how God goes before us each day and allows us to meet new people and build new relationships for his kingdom.”

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